Spice are very important in the economy of Indonesia, although less now than before the Second World War. The main spices commercially cultivated are candlenut tree, galangal, round cardamom, Indonesia cassia, turmeric, nutmeg, pepper, clove, vanilla and ginger, large amounts of which are used in the traditional medicine (‘jamu’) industries. They also account for most of the spice exports, although in some cases such as clove, local production does not always meet domestic demand, leading to imports.
National statistics on the spice are not readily available and are often conflicting and confusing. The data available are presented in the individual spice entries in this volume.
A number of Indonesia’s spices originate from India and China and have been brought in over the past 1000 years by migrating people. In the last 400 years about 20 species have been introduced from tropical America, the Mediterranean area and other parts of Europe and Africa.
The Mediterranean species introduced by the Europeans when they colonized South-East Asia include anise, dill, fennel, parsley, rosemary, and thyme; these are grown on a small scale only. Some herbs such as parsley and rosemary were initially introduced without much success, but renewed interest is being shown in them because of the increasing popularity of European dishes. Indonesia imports small amounts of processed spices, mainly from European countries.
In recent decades Indonesia has begun to develop the technology for widening the prospects from the use of spices in the country, particularly by more local industries. The establishment of the Research Institute for Spice and Medicinal Crops (RISMC) testifies to the importance accorded to the commodity.
this article is taken from book Prosea, Plant Resources of South-East Asia 13, C.C. de Guzman and J.S. Siemonsma