CIMAP gives fragrant boost to farmers’ income
After the success of Mint Revolution, India’s leading scientific research agency, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is aggressively pursuing its Aroma Mission in an attempt to enhance the income of farmers by spreading cultivation of aromatic crops.
In an exclusive meeting with UNI, Anil Kumar Tripathi, Director of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), Lucknow, said, “Enhancing the income of farmers and empowering them has been our major focus area. In the light of the past successes of CSIR-CIMAP, particularly the Mint Revolution that was brought to Uttar Pradesh, CSIR is pinning a lot of hope on us for focussing on using aromatic crops to boost the income of farmers.”
With a view to strengthening the India system of traditional medicine, CSIR is laying emphasis on aromatic crops as an alternative source of income for farmers in the event of mercurial weather conditions.
“When the land is lying fallow, for instance, between wheat harvesting and rice plantation, we provide short-duration crops which precisely fit into the cropping pattern. The income generated through such short-duration crops is almost twice that of the two crops (wheat and rice) put together,” Prof Tripathi pointed out.
“The challenge before us now is Aroma Mission, which is targeting expansion of cultivation of aromatic crops in an additional 6,000 hectares. Under this mission, we will provide direct intervention by offering a variety of crop options, guidance programmes, awareness programmes, and setting up of distillation units and marketing facilities, he said.
Aroma Mission has been launched with the ambition of making India emerge as a global leader in the production of essential oils extracted from aromatic crops. Aromatic essential oils have a great demand in the aroma and perfumery industries. “We are targeting 6,000 hectares, but we certainly hope that soon this will catalyse cultivation in about 60,000 to 100,000 hectares, because once the farmers see the ‘success story’ they promptly grab the opportunity. So, the idea is to create ‘success stories’ which will automatically attract farmers and, in turn, spread cultivation to 100,000 hectares,” Prof Tripathi said.
Besides Lucknow, CIMAP centres in Hyderabad and Bangalore are engaged finding ways to promote Aroma Mission. “The Hyderabad centre has done remarkable work towards expansion of ashwagandha crop cultivation. In very remote areas where rainfall is very poor, ashwagandha has been providing good support to the farmers,” he said with a sense of satisfaction.
Referring to Mint Revolution which catapulted India to the top slot of menthol production, Prof Tripathi stated, “About 30 years ago, India was a net importer of menthol, which is used in cough syrup, toothpaste etc. In fact, it was not produced in India at all. Menthol is extracted from a plant which is called Japanese mint. It was brought to India by our visionary directors and acclimatised. Gradually, we developed a whole lot of varieties in such a way that its cultivation fitted very well into the cropping pattern of farmers. There are climates that favour cultivation of mint and UP was most suited for it, because it is grown in summers and UP’s summers are real hot.”
“Enhancing the income of farmers and empowering them has been our major focus area. In the light of the past successes of CSIR-CIMAP, particularly the Mint Revolution that was brought to Uttar Pradesh, CSIR is pinning a lot of hope on us for focussing on using aromatic crops to boost the income of farmers.”
Prof Tripathi pointed out, “India is currently the largest exporter of menthol oil and mint is cultivated in 200,000 hectares area. Earlier, it was 300,000 hectares, but due to creation of synthetic menthol in Germany, the production went down because the prices went down. Millions of farmers are benefitting and a survey done by us showed that their income has increased by about 1.75 times because of mint cultivation.”
“Today if India is the largest producer and exporter of menthol mint, it is because of CIMAP scientists and their dedication. The varieties of menthol mint, the agro technology, processing technology, marketing extension facilities… everything has been done by CIMAP,” he said with a sense of pride while pointing out that menthol oil was Rs 4,000-crore annual turnover business.
“Because of Mint Revolution, we have built a great amount of trust among farmers. When the farmers know that CIMAP is the same institution which had created Mint Revolution, they willingly adopt whatever we introduce to them,” Prof Tripathi concluded.