SRINAGAR : Cultivation of lavender has changed fortunes of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir under ‘Aroma Mission or Purple Revolution’, an initiative of Centre government towards transforming lives of UT’s farmers community.

Pertinently, Purple or Lavender Revolution was launched in 2016 by the Union Ministry of Science & Technology through the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Aroma Mission. The aim of the mission is to support domestic aromatic crop-based agro-economy by moving from imported aromatic oils to homegrown varieties.

Lavender cultivation is practiced in almost all 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Under the mission, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings while those who had cultivated lavender before were charged Rs. 5-6 per sapling.

Farmers are happy with farming of unconventional aromatic plants under Aroma Mission.

The mission promotes cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils that are in great demand by the aroma industry.

In J&K, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu (IIIM Jammu) are the two bodies responsible for taking the Aroma Mission forward. The CSIR Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing and product development for fuelling the growth of aroma industry and rural employment.

It is expected to enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders in the production and export of some other essential oils in the pattern of menthol mint.

According to the Lavendar farmers, the selling of at least one litre of its oil fetches them Rs 10,000.

The farmers say that lavender grown over one hectare of land gives them a minimum of 40 litre of lavender oil.

Lavender water, which separates from lavender oil, is used to make incense sticks. Hydrosol, which is formed after distillation from the flowers, is used to make soaps and room fresheners.

An official of IIM-Jammu farmers get help from IIIM-Jammu to sell their produce. Many private companies also procure lavender extracts from the farmers.

Notably, Doda district is leading the way and four distillation units have been set up by CSIR-IIIM Jammu in the district. Farmers from remote areas of district Doda reach these plants for extraction of lavender oil.

More than 800 progressive farmers of Doda have adopted aromatic cultivation which is now proved out to be profitable.

On February 9, 2021, CSIR-IIIM-Jammu announced Aroma Mission phase 2 after the success of the first phase during a grand launch function. The mission was aimed at to increase lavender cultivation to 1,500 hectares till 2024. Farmers from Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Assam attended the event. Impressed by the success of Doda’s lavender farmers, the Uttarakhand authorities invited some of them to train their farmers.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has formed an FPO (Farmer Producer Organization) at many places to provide end-to-end support and services to the Lavender farmers, and cover technical services, marketing, processing and other aspects of cultivation inputs.

To speed up production of lavender saplings for meeting the growing demand, the department of agriculture production and farmers welfare has sponsored naturally ventilated semi high-tech poly green houses, where saplings will be grown scientifically which will eventually help in bringing more area under lavender farming in less time.