Press "Enter" to skip to content

Doda farmers income multiplies as they shift to lavender crop

Last Updated on March 4, 2021 at 6:23 pm

When the J&K government’s tourism department introduced lavender for beautification, Bharat Bhushan was one of the many farmers who started producing it in 2010. As he parted his ways from traditional crops, he became subject to a lot of ridicule from fellow villagers, but Bhushan was not going to change his decision so easily.

Later in 2016, when the Central government launched the Aroma Mission in order to motivate farmers to increase the cultivation of plants like lavender which have aromatic medicinal properties. Bhushan started early and enjoyed the first-mover advantage. As a result, his earnings quadrupled and he currently employees 20 farmers in his lavender fields and nursery.

Other than Bhushan, around 500 farmers from his district have seen increasing their income after switching from maize to lavender. Bhushan started cultivating lavender in around 0.1 hectares of land. As he witnessed the crop significantly increasing his earnings, he started producing more and more lavender in place of maize. Now, he also owns two lavender nurseries.

The price of lavender is around Rs 10,000 per litre, according to scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (IIIM Jammu), the two bodies which supervise the Aroma Mission. This mission was launched to reduce our dependence on imported aromatic oils. Under this scheme, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings.

Sumeet Gairola, senior scientist, CSIR-IIIM Jammu and nodal scientist for Aroma Mission in Jammu & Kashmir told Down to Earth that around 40 litres of lavender oil can be produced from lavender grown over one hectare of land. However, because Doda is flatter than the ideal condition, 32-40 litres of lavender oil is generally extracted per hectare from the local produce. 

Lavender water is produced after separating from lavender oil. It is used to make incense sticks. Hydrosol is formed after distillation from the flowers and it is used to make soaps and room fresheners.

IIIM-Jammu also helps the farmers to sell their produce. Aromatic products manufacturing companies like Ajmal Biotech private limited, Aditi International and Navnetri Gamika are their primary buyers. These companies buy lavender extracts from the farmers in Doda and other J&K districts like Rajouri, Ramban and Pulwama where farmers started cultivating lavender after Aroma Mission was launched in 2018.

There are four distillation units set up by CSIR-IIIM Jammu in Doda and two more have been proposed to meet the increased demand. Farmers from remote locations of district Doda reach these plants for the extraction of lavender oil.

Lavender cultivation also provides employment to women farmers in the region. Since women are not allowed to work away from home in villages so they cultivate lavender around their homes and it works as an income supplement for them. Moreover, animals like monkeys and cows do not eat or destroy lavender crop which is an added incentive for farmers. Also, it does not require much water or fertilizers.

On February 9, 2021, CSIR-IIIM-Jammu announced Aroma Mission phase 2. Farmers from Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Assam attended the event. Authorities are aiming to increase lavender cultivation to 1,500 hectares within three years.