Barely three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the setting up of the National Turmeric Board (NTB) and the Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University in Telangana, the Union government on Wednesday, 4 October, gave a nod to both projects.
The government will set up the NTB with a view to promoting the production of the herb having medicinal value and increasing its exports to $1 billion or ₹8,400 crore by 2030.
“With the focused activities of the board, it is expected that turmeric exports will reach $1 billion by 2030,” a Commerce Ministry statement said.
The Union Cabinet also decided to amend the Central Universities Act so as to set up of the Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University in Telangana.
‘Long pending demand’
According to the statement, the board will focus on the development and growth of turmeric and turmeric products in the country.
Briefing media about the issue, Union Minister Kishan Reddy, who is also the state unit chief of the BJP, said the decision fulfils the long-pending demand of farmers of Telangana.
He said the board would not only help farmers of Telangana but also Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Assam, Gujarat, Odisha, and West Bengal.
He also said farmers in Telangana did not wear slippers or shoes for the past 15 years to press for their demand of setting up a dedicated board for turmeric.
“Our cadres have distributed slippers to the farmers of Telangana after this announcement,” he said.
The government has chalked out a plan to increase turmeric exports to ₹8,400 crore, or $1 billion, per annum from the existing $1,600 crore, said Union Minister Anurag Thakur, while briefing the media about the Union Cabinet decisions on Wednesday.
The constitution of the board
The board will have a chairperson to be appointed by the Union government.
Its members will be from the Ministry of AYUSH, the Departments of Pharmaceuticals, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and Commerce and Industry of the Union government, senior state government representatives from three states (on a rotation basis), select national/state institutions involved in research, representatives of turmeric farmers, and exporters.
It will have a secretary to be appointed by the Department of Commerce. India has more than 62 percent share in the world trade of turmeric.
The board will provide leadership on turmeric-related matters, augment efforts, and facilitate greater coordination with the Spices Board and other government agencies in the development and growth of the turmeric sector.
The world has a significant interest in the health and wellness benefits of turmeric, which the board will leverage to further increase awareness and consumption, develop new markets internationally to increase exports, promote research and development into new products, and develop the traditional knowledge for value-added turmeric products.
To help in skill development
It will especially focus on capacity-building and skill development of turmeric growers for harnessing greater benefits out of value addition.
The board will also promote quality and food safety standards and adherence to such standards.
It will also take steps to further safeguard and usefully exploit turmeric’s full potential for humanity. India is the largest producer, consumer, and exporter of turmeric in the world.
In 2022-23, an area of 3.24 lakh hectare was under turmeric cultivation in India with a production of 11.61 lakh tonne (over 75 percent of global turmeric production).
More than 30 varieties of turmeric are grown in India and it is grown in over 20 states in the country.
The largest producing states of turmeric are Maharashtra, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.
‘To improve quality of higher education’
The new Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University will not only increase access and improve the quality of higher education in the state, but also promote avenues of higher education and advance knowledge, the government said.
“The Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for introduction in Parliament, a Bill, namely, the Central Universities (Amendment), Bill, 2023, further to amend the Central Universities Act, 2009, for setting up of Sammakka Sarakka Central Tribal University at Mulugu district in the state of Telangana as provided in the Thirteenth Schedule to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014,” an official statement said.
“There would be provision of funds of ₹889 .07 crore. The new university will not only increase access and improve the quality of higher education in the state but also promote avenues of higher education and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in tribal art, culture and traditional knowledge systems for the benefit of the tribal population in the state.
“This new university will also create additional capacity and will strive to remove regional imbalances,” it added.
Modi on Sunday announced the setting up of the university in Telangana, an assurance mentioned in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.
The university is named after tribal goddesses Sammakka and Sarakka.
(With PTI inputs)