Lemongrass, Mint spread scent of change in Odisha

GS Paper-III

News Excerpt:

In Odisha tribal communities have found a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional rain-fed agriculture. High-value aromatic crops and floriculture have recently emerged as a means to supplement their livelihood.

 About the news:

  • With the help of the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) in Lucknow, two districts in Odisha have recently introduced different aromatic plants such as menthol mint (the CIM-Unnati variety), rosemary (Hariyali variety), etc.

The Success Story of the project:

  • The CIMAP, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory, started an experimental lemongrass plantation in Nabarangpur a couple of years ago.
    • Crops and varieties were selected considering their tolerance to high levels of water stress.
  • At the end of 2023, the CSIR-Aroma Mission has touched 26 out of 30 districts of Odisha, through 46 clusters.
  • Across the state, nearly 850 hectares have been planted with aromatic crops, while 22 distillation units have been installed, producing 25 to 30 tonnes of aromatic oil.
  • Importance of the Project:
    • Huge Demand: Aromatic plants do not face the regulatory challenges that medicinal plantations face. The district administration is facilitating the setting up of distillation units for adding value to the crop.
    • Repel elephants: The crop was also an instant hit in Angul district, where farmers were distressed by frequent crop raids by wild elephants. When the animals ate the lemongrass, however, they immediately vomited. The distinct odour of aromatic plant species such as lemongrass, citronella and vetiver, among others, repels elephants.

Aromatic plants:

  • Aromatic plants are those that contain aromatic compounds – basically, essential oils that are volatile at room temperature.
    • These essential oils are odorous, volatile, hydrophobic and highly concentrated compounds.
    • They can be obtained from flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, twigs, bark, wood, fruits and roots.

Significance of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs): 

  • Since ancient times, these substances have been utilised in healthcare systems for disease treatment, therapeutic, fragrance, and flavouring products in pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
    • They occupy an important position in the socio-cultural, health care, and spiritual arenas of people of India. 
  • Empowering rural women: MAP-based livelihoods can be easily mainstreamed with other components to enhance human welfare, especially among farm women
  • These are sources of natural dye, fat, essential oil, bio-pesticide, resin, protein, vitamin, condiment, spice, timber, and fiber.
  • Homestead cultivation; Easy to establish; Minimum care; Short duration; Multipurpose; Income generation; Employment generation; Post harvesting and value addition

Issues related with MAPs in India:

  • Lack of awareness about the utility and value of medicinal plants 
  • Availability of seeds/planting materials
  • Different types of hazards - Health security; Poverty; Food security
  • Lack of technological awareness and exposure
  • Marketing
  • Environmental Concerns

Way Forward:

  • India has favourable agro-climate conditions for the cultivation of various medicinal and aromatic crops. These have an immense potential for providing livelihood support to marginal and small farmers in general and to farm women in particular.
  • MAPs will be helpful for the health security and for the economic security of farm families in the field of horticulture.

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