In the rapidly growing industry, there is a group of farmers’ who are earning about Rs 3 lakh per acre, a figure that gives us a true outlook, when we consider that rice and wheat farming does not pay us more than Rs 30,000 per acre.
Aromatic plants and herbs used in herbal medicines and personal care products are the key ingredients of this farm’s high earnings. Shankhapushpi, Ateesh, kutki, kuth, kapikachhu, karanja are some of the herbs that mean little to the urban consumer but is a big source of income for some farmers. As per industry estimates, the herbal products market stands at Rs 50,000 crore.
According to government data, land devoted to aromatic plants and herbs is still very small i.e. 6.34 lakh hectares out of the total currently cropped area of 1,058.1 lakh hectares. Even more significant are farmers’ returns. A farmer who grows ateesh herb, mainly used in ayurvedic medicine can easily earn Rs2.5-3 lakh per acre. On the other hand, a lavender farmer can get Rs1.2-1.5 lakh returns per acre. And for these returns the Bharat Bhushan of Khellani village of Jammu and Kashmir switched from maize to lavender.
Vidya Karan, another small farmer from Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, has a multi-herb collection that includes ateesh – Rs 2.5-3 lakh per acre, karu – Rs 1.5-2 lakh per acre and rattan jot – Rs 1.15 lakh per acre. Vidya told that the best thing about these herbs is they don’t require much water or fertilizers.
Dabur is also working with the farmers to grow medicinal plants like shankhapushpi in Barmer, Rajasthan. Amit Agarwal, director, Natural Remedies said “Some high-value herbs like ateesh, kutki, kuth are presently more gainful because of supply shortage”. He added that on an average a farmer can get Rs 60,000 per acre by growing herbs. The company is also engaged in contract farming of herbs on 1,043 acre of land. According to Dabur India CSR head, A Sudhakar, in 2017-18, the company saw 25% increase in area under cultivation of medicinal herbs, which was more than 5,000 acres across 19 states. The company works with around 800 farmers, covering over 3500 acres, informed a company spokesperson.
CEO, Patanjali Acharya Balkrishna said the company is “helping farmers grow herbs on 40,000 acre”. Chirayata, Kutki and shatavari are on top of his list of best earners.
Moreover, the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine in Jammu & Kashmir has also been promoting aromatic plants like lavender, rosemary, geranium and clary sage. Director of the institute, Ram Vishwakarma said “Demand for oils from these plants is coming from domestic companies dealing in perfumery and cosmetics”.