Purple Revolution: Aroma Mission Drawing Entrepreneurs

Kashmir’s Lavender is captivating both domestic and international markets
"About 1 kanal of land under maize cultivation generates income of `6,000 and the same area generates `30,000 with lavender farming."
"About 1 kanal of land under maize cultivation generates income of `6,000 and the same area generates `30,000 with lavender farming."Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Kashmir is moving towards “purple revolution” as the farmers are slowly switching over from the traditional crops to more rewarding farming of lavender, a purple blossomed aromatic shrub.

Lavender is used for oil extraction which is then used in making soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, room fresheners, medicines, etc. The lavender plant does not require a lot of water and has a low risk of pests or other animals that destroy crops. A single lavender plant bears flowers for 15 years, needs low maintenance and can be used from the second year of plantation.

Due to the support by the government, farmers have begun to switch over from traditional crops, including fruits, to lavender production in Anantnag, Pulwama, Budgam, Ganderbal and Kupwara districts.

The panchayats have started helping lavender farmers to increase lavender cultivation and effectively their income. Compared to traditional crops, earnings from lavender farming have been much more profitable. About 1 kanal of land under maize cultivation generates income of `6,000 and the same area generates `30,000 with lavender farming.

Since 2007 onwards, lavender farming has been introduced in Kashmir and parts of Jammu. It is now picking up revolutionary proportions. Lavender farming is now done in all of J&K’s 20 districts. Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Srinagar, Pulwama, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Kulgam and Baramulla districts, in particular, have made significant headway in this direction.

Lavender farming was launched as ‘Aroma Mission’ of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, under the Ministry of Science and Technology. After the success of Phase I, the CSIR has started Phase-II, which will include over 45,000 skilled human resources and help over 75,000 families. According to officials, the climate of J&K is highly conducive for lavender cultivation as this plant can grow in cold temperatures and moderate summers.

The Kashmir part of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is perceived as the hub of medicinal plants.  Lavender, particularly, shows promising potential as a therapeutic and aromatic herb that can positively contribute towards India’s economic and medical prospects.  Kashmir’s lavender is captivating both domestic and international markets. Findings have indicated that lavender farming can prove profitable for farmers given a sustained demand and organized farmer activities. To boost lavender production and export, the Government of India has been taking transformational steps.

The Purple Revolution or Lavender Revolution, launched by the Ministry of Science & Technology, aims to promote the indigenous aromatic crop-based agro economy through the ‘aroma mission’ of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The mission aims to increase the income of the farmers and promote lavender cultivation on commercial scale. Lavender oil, which sells for, at least, Rs. 10,000 per liter, is the main commodity. Other popular products include medicines, incense sticks, soaps, and air fresheners.

The cultivation of lavender is very cost-effective as it yields a revenue immediately. Jammu and Kashmir’s climatic conditions are conducive to lavender cultivation, since the aromatic plant can withstand both chilly winters and pleasant summers.

Additionally, it is a low maintenance crop, which can be used from its second year of plantation and blossoms for fifteen years. In its entirety, lavender production gives better returns when compared to other traditional crops.

The field station of the CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, located in Bonera, is playing a crucial role in promoting and expanding lavender cultivation in the picturesque southern district of Pulwama. Through their dedicated efforts, they are empowering local labourers and revolutionising agricultural practices in the region.

Lavender, known for its captivating fragrance and versatile uses, has gained popularity as a crop worldwide. Recognising its potential in Jammu and Kashmir, the CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine has actively engaged in research and development to harness the benefits of lavender farming.

By collaborating with local farmers and providing them with technical expertise, the institute has successfully brought lavender cultivation to the forefront of the agricultural industry in Pulwama. This initiative has not only created new opportunities for the region but also contributed to the overall socio-economic development of the local community.

The labourers working on the lavender farm are experiencing a significant improvement in their livelihoods. Many of them previously relied on traditional farming practices that yielded limited returns. With the introduction of lavender cultivation, they now have access to a high-value crop that fetches better market prices.

The CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine has conducted extensive research on lavender varieties suitable for the climatic conditions of Jammu and Kashmir. Through careful selection and breeding, they have developed robust and disease-resistant lavender plants, ensuring successful harvests for the farmers.

Further, the institute has imparted advanced agricultural techniques and best practices to the labourers, enabling them to maximise their yield and optimise the quality of lavender oil and other lavender-based products. This knowledge transfer has not only enhanced productivity but has also empowered the farmers with valuable skills for sustainable agriculture.

The director of the CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine said, "Our aim is to create a lavender revolution in Jammu and Kashmir, transforming the lives of farmers and boosting the economy. Lavender farming has tremendous potential, and we are committed to supporting the local community in capitalizing on this opportunity."

The success of lavender cultivation in the southern Pulwama district has garnered attention from other regions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Farmers and agricultural enthusiasts are now eager to adopt lavender farming, recognising its profitability and ecological benefits.

With the continued efforts of the CSIR Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine and the dedication of local farmers and labourers, the lavender industry in Jammu and Kashmir is poised for remarkable growth. This collaborative endeavor is not only diversifying the agricultural landscape but also positioning the region as a key player in the lavender market.

"Lavender, Jammu and Kashmir" refers to the cultivation and production of lavender in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir is a region located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, known for its scenic beauty, diverse landscapes, and rich cultural heritage.

Jammu and Kashmir's lavender farms have become increasingly popular among tourists and locals alike. The sight of sprawling lavender fields in full bloom has become a major attraction, drawing visitors to the region. The fragrance and beauty of lavender add to the overall charm of Jammu and Kashmir's natural landscapes.

The lavender grown in Jammu and Kashmir is used for various purposes. Its aromatic flowers are harvested and processed to extract essential oils, which are used in perfumes, soaps, candles, and other cosmetic and aromatic products. The lavender oil from Jammu and Kashmir is known for its soothing properties and is often used in aromatherapy for relaxation and stress relief.

The cultivation of lavender in Jammu and Kashmir has not only brought economic benefits to the local farmers but also contributed to the diversification of the region's agricultural sector. It has opened up new avenues of income generation and provided employment opportunities for the local population.

In summary, "Lavender, Jammu and Kashmir" refers to the cultivation and production of lavender in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The region's favorable climate and soil conditions have led to the establishment of lavender farms, attracting tourists and contributing to the local economy. Lavender from Jammu and Kashmir is valued for its fragrance and is used in various cosmetic and aromatic products.

(Author is senior staffer at Greater Kashmir)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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