There are five types of spices that are being prioritized, which are turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and vanilla.Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia is home to some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, with 11 percent of the plant species worldwide found in tropical forests across its regions.
There are about 30 thousand species of plants, most of which are spices.
Spices are the part of a plant that is flavorful or has a strong taste. They are used in food to add a dash of flavoring.
Spices are also commonly used for similar purposes, such as processing medicinal plants and for adding flavor to vegetables and dried fruit.
There are many types of spices growing in other parts of the world, but Indonesia is blessed with a plethora of them.
Spices were also one of the reasons behind Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama sailing to Maluku. A Dutch explorer, inspired by Da Gama's journey, finally visited the land of Ambon for the same reason.
However, according to historical records, spices were not just commodities but were also an important factor in the history of global civilization.
Spices hold significance for people, as they play an important role in economic, socio-cultural, and political development on a local and international scale.
The legendary background is what drives Indonesia to promote the archipelago's spice commodities to gain greater popularity worldwide.
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World Expo 2020 Dubai
With the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, Indonesia has a golden opportunity to re-introduce the Nusantara spices to the global community.
At the event, the Indonesia Pavilion presents various spices of the archipelago through different approaches.
Ginger, turmeric, cloves, star anise, galangal, pepper, nutmeg, coriander, and hazelnut, embedded in clear resin spread along the length and breadth of Indonesia's map welcome visitors.
While enjoying the spice exhibition through the beauty of resin art, visitors can listen to the audio explanation of what spices are and their role in Indonesia's trade history.
Indonesia also implements the "Spice Up The World" program that is a cross-sector cooperation between ministries and institutions for promoting spices from upstream to downstream.
The program was implemented due to the little recognition given to original Indonesian spices despite having a distinctive taste, with high potential in the market.
Taking into account the demand of the foreign market, Indonesia is only able to meet 0.67 percent of the spice requirements in Africa and about 3.87 percent of the needs in Australia.
At the National Day Indonesia event held at the Dubai Expo 2020 attended by President Joko Widodo, Indonesia launched the "Spice Up The World" Program amid stunning cultural performances.
That launch in front of thousands of foreigners was expected to boost the trade of Indonesian spices.
The value of spice exports, which amounted to US$1 billion in 2020, was targeted to double in 2024.
At the same time, the Indonesian government had announced that the number of overseas Indonesian restaurants had increased to four thousand, as compared to last year's count of 1,021.
According to data from the Ministry of Trade, Indonesia's spice exports during the January-August 2021 period were valued at US$499.1 million.
The value grew by 12.88 percent as compared to the corresponding period in 2020. Indonesian exported spice products comprise nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. The main destination countries are the United States, China, India, Vietnam, and the Netherlands.
The program, implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, involves a cross-ministerial and cross-institutional cooperation, with countries targeted being Australia and some in Africa, although it did not hinder the possibility of exporting to other countries in the world.
"On behalf of Indonesia, we are humbled to be a part of and to be able to share our history, our culture, our aspirations, and of course, the unforgettable, rich, and delicious Indonesian cuisine," Trade Minister, Muhammad Lutfi, stated at the launch.
To achieve the program's target, the Ministry of Trade has collaborated with the Indonesian Food and Beverage Business Association (GAPMMI) to synergize and take on the role of increasing exports and the number of Indonesian restaurants globally.
GAPMMI Chairman Adhi Lukman, during his business visit to Dubai, pointed to very few Indonesian food and beverage products being available at Dubai's convenience stores, including spices that were usually common.
Hence, GAPMMI signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with state-owned retail company Sarinah and state-run BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia) to encourage the implementation of the Spice Up The World Program.
Through the MoU, Indonesian spice products will be receive a 30-percent discount for export shipping or logistics to various countries in the world.
According to Lukman, BNI is ready to finance new Indonesian restaurants that will be established internationally, so that the target of opening four thousand Indonesian restaurants in the world can be achieved.
With these restaurants, the need for spices abroad will increase. Thus, the export of spice products can rise.
GAPMMI has also curated 200 large companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that process herbs and spices to obtain potential export products.
After the companies were curated, 68 spice-processing companies were decided to have met the export standards. Thereafter, 17 were given the opportunity to showcase their products at the Indonesia Pavilion.
Interestingly, out of the 17 companies, only two -- Indofood and Finna -- were classified as large, while the other 15 companies were SMEs from several regions in Indonesia.
Rendang spices, fried rice, and gado-gado have been prioritized, wherein the focus was to increase their exports. Meanwhile, five types of spices being prioritized are turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, and vanilla.
Those spices will be prioritized for export to the three continents of Africa, the US, and Europe. Nevertheless, GAPMMI did not close the possibility to open export opportunities to other countries.
According to Lukman, Africa was selected since it is a continent where its people use ample spices in the cuisine, but its potential has not been optimally acquired and built by Indonesia.
Meanwhile, exports to Europe are considered to be lucrative and offer high opportunities owing to the history of the Netherlands and Portugal that looked for Indonesian spices. To this end, the Government of Indonesia intends to re-work the likely market there.
With such endeavors, the export target of US$2 billion and the establishment of four thousand Indonesian restaurants is expected to be achieved as planned, so that the archipelago's spices can really "spice up" the world.
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