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Last Updated : Sep 14, 2018 04:14 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Herb plantation helps farmers earn up to Rs 3 lakh/acre

Demands for herbs and aromatic plants such as ateesh, kuth, kutki, karanja, kapikachhu, shankhapushpi have been on a rise owing to increase in consumption of ayurvedic medicines and personal care products.

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A small group of farmers are earning as much as Rs 3 lakh per acre from selling herbs and aromatic plants they grow, highlighting a different picture of India's farming story.

Most of the farmers, who cultivate rice and wheat, manage to earn about Rs 30,000 per acre.

Demands for herbs and aromatic plants such as ateesh, kuth, kutki,   karanja, kapikachhu, shankhapushpi have been on a rise owing to increase in consumption of ayurvedic medicines and personal care products.

The market for herbal products is pegged at Rs 50,000 crore, growing at a fast annual clip of 15 percent. While the area of land dedicated to herbs and aromatic plants is very small — 6.34 lakh hectares out of the total currently cropped area of 1,058.1 lakh hectares — it is growing 10 percent annually, according to government data.

A farmer growing ateesh — a herb mostly used in ayurvedic medicine — in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh may easily get Rs 2.5-3 lakh per acre. A lavender farmer may make Rs 1.2-1.5 lakh returns per acre.

Considering higher returns on these crops, Bharat Bhushan of Khellani village in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir started growing lavender from maize in his 2-acre plot, as per a report in The Economic Times.

“I planted the crop for the first time in 2000 and the returns are four times what I used to get for maize,” Bhushan told the paper.
Industries process lavender flowers to obtain oil, dry flowers and other value-added products.

Vidya Karan, another farmer located in Sangla village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, pointed out that growing these herbs are beneficial as they require less water and fertilisers.

“We don’t have to water the herbs too much or spray fertilisers on it,” Karan told the paper, adding that this has enabled them to cultivate even when rainfall is poor.

A higher value is sought for these herbs as the supply for most of these plants is limited. "Some high-value herbs like ateesh, kuth, kutki are currently more profitable because of a supply shortage,” Amit Agarwal, director, Natural Remedies told the paper.

Agarwal added that on an average a farmer can earn Rs 60,000 per acre by growing herbs if there is demand.

Most of the companies that source these herbs and plants are working with the farmers to maintain a supply chain. For instance, Dabur is working farmers to grow medicinal plants like shankhapushpi in Barmer, Rajasthan. Natural Remedies has a contract farming of herbs on 1,043 acres of land, while Patanjali is helping farmers cultivate herbs on 40,000 acres. Even Himalaya Drug Company is working with over 800 farmers, covering over 3,500 acres, a company spokesperson told the paper.

“Demand for oils from these plants is coming from domestic companies dealing in perfumery and cosmetics,” Ram Vishwakarma, director, IIIM told the paper.

In FY18, the area of land cultivating medicinal herbs increased by 25 percent — more than 5,000 acres across 19 states, involving 2,400 farmer families, according to a study conducted by Dabur, its CSR head A Sudhakar told the paper.
First Published on Sep 14, 2018 04:14 pm
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