Dharamshala: Scientists are helping farmers in remote areas in the hills take up cultivation of aromatic crops to double their income under the CSIR Aroma scheme, officials said.
Cultivators have been facing problems of non-remunerative returns and increasing incidents of crop loss due to wild and stray animals.
CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (IHBT), Palampur Director Sanjay Kumar told that aromatic crops are cultivated around the world for essential oils which earn a high revenue and are used in agrochemical, flavoring, perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.
Crops such as wild marigold, damask rose, lavender, rosemary, lemongrass and mushkbala are good for cultivation in marginal and waste lands.
“To promote cultivation of aromatic crops, a complete package of agro and processing technologies has been developed to help farmers realize the profits. Depending upon the quality and quantity of essential oil, they can earn a net profit of Rs 0.8 to 1.5 lakh per hectare annually,” Kumar said. He said the essential oil extracted from aromatic crops has a huge demand in perfumery, flavour and fragrance industry in India and abroad.
“During the last two years, CSIR-IHBT has brought more than 500 ha area under these crops. Cultivation of wild marigold has resulted in production of 7.6 tonne of essential oil in Himachal Pradesh with revenue generation of Rs. 5.56 crore, benefitting 861 farmers,” Kumar added. “To promote cultivation of aromatic crops for doubling farmers’ income, small societies of progressive farmers have been formed in different states. Nineteen processing units have been set up for these societies for production of essential oils.”
With CSIR-IHBT’s efforts, Himachal Pradesh has become the largest producer of high-quality wild marigold essential oil in India, meeting the demand of perfume, flavouring, and condiment industries, Kumar said.
The main wild marigold growing regions in Himachal are Bhatiyat and Salooni in Chamba district , Seraj and Gogardhar in Mandi district, Banjar in Kullu, and Rampur in Shimla district. Batote and Kishtwar in Jammu and Kashmir and Bageshwar and Nainital in Uttarakhand are also important wild marigold growing regions.
The CSIR-IHBT team imparted 133 trainings on cultivation and processing of aromatic crops to 2,900 farmers and unemployed youths in remote areas in the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Sikkim, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Linkages were established between farmers and guaranteed buyers and the institute held extensive varietal improvement programs for these crops. Farmers were also provided quality planting material for their commercial cultivation.