India’s Spice Trade In Photos

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For millennia, India has been the world's favourite spice market. For many merchants, it's an intergenerational business.

India has been the world’s favourite spice market for millennia. The spice trade exists between the cusp of formal and informal markets where trust and human connections constitute the backbone of the supply chain. Here’s a look at India’s spice market in photos. This is the first in a series of stories on traditional markets in India.

Bag, chilis, market, informal, spice
Image: Riyaz Shaik/ 7MB

A bag of chillies is left open for buyers to check its quality.

Farmers, auction, market, spice
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Small and marginal farmers bring their spices to the market, hoping for a better price.

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A spice merchant stands in front of a mural which says ‘Profit’. Enterprising merchants make small profits buying and selling spices.

Spice, traders, bargain, auction
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A buyer, a farmer, and a commission agent negotiate the price of chillies. Many transactions are based on trust and paid in cash.

Auction, Spice, Market, Traders, Bargain
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Anxious farmers haggle at an auction conducted by a commission agent.

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It’s 11 a.m and these men are already exhausted. They start their day at 4 a.m, shifting bags of spice.

Spice, market, cycle, cart, vegetables, logistics
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Venkataiah pulls his rickshaw around the market. For thirty years, he has shuttled goods for the local traders.

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Shiva Lingam and his family have been selling spices for over three generations. For many here, it’s still a family business.

Chilli, powder sack,
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A mound of Mirchi.

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The spice trade put India on the map several centuries ago. It continues to be the lifeblood of millions of farmers, traders, and merchants.

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