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India becomes one of the largest exporters of lemon grass’

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NEW DELHI : As per the CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow, the global market of lemongrass was USD 38.02 million in 2020 which is expected to grow from USD 41.98 million in 2021 to 81.43 million by 2028. From being one of the largest importers of lemongrass a few years back, India has now become one of the largest exporters in the world, courtesy, the ‘Aroma Mission’ project led by CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow.

According to Dr Prabodh Kumar Trivedi, Director of CISR-CIMAP, “About 1000 tonnes of lemongrass are produced every year, and out of it, 300 – 400 tonnes are exported. Thanks to the ‘Aroma Mission’ project led by CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow. The mission also syncs with the PM’s mission to make India ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat,’ as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has made important contributions to the establishment, fostering, and positioning of the country’s essential oil-based aroma industry. It benefited the industry, farmers, and next-generation businesses, besides, also boosting the export of lemongrass over the time.”

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for disinfectants skyrocketed which has significantly increased the demand for lemongrass across the world. As per the CSIR-CIMAP, Lucknow, the global market of lemongrass was USD 38.02 million in 2020 which is expected to grow from USD 41.98 million in 2021 to 81.43 million by 2028,” said Dr Trivedi.

“In India, lemongrass cultivation became widely popular due to its fewer challenges in farming. It can be easily grown in drylands and even in areas frequently affected by drought or insufficient rainfall. Inherently tolerant to moisture stress, it grows very well under moisture deficient conditions including in areas such as Vidarbha, Bundelkhand and Marathwada regions. Mostly, it is grown in Western Ghats including Kerala, Maharashtra, UP, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha and in several North-Eastern states. Interestingly, there is no risk of damage from animals; because the essential oil present in the leaves makes it unpalatable to the wild or domestic animals,” he said.

“This crop under Aroma Mission has been highly successful in areas close to forests, tribal lands and places like Bundelkhand where Annapratha (leaving domestic animals in fields) is a common practice,” he said.

2000 hectares land brought under cultivation

As per CIMAP, under the Aroma Mission itself, more than 2000 hectares have been brought under cultivation which would have contributed about 200 tonnes of essential oil worth ₹30 crore to the Indian Aroma industry. This has also reduced the import burden of the country and helped in enhancing exports. Significant benefits in terms of utilization of underutilized lands, abandoned farmlands, and lands with high pH, salinity, and solidity have been brought under cultivation.

High yielding varieties brought by CIMAP, such as Krishna and CIM-Shikhar, supplied more essential oil and increased crop yields by two folds where old varieties were grown.

Growth in rural employment of approx. 2-3 lakh man-days.

Under the Aroma Mission, several improved distillation units were also installed in lemongrass clusters.

“Our interventions under Aroma Mission provided handsome benefits to farmers, especially tribal farmers from UP, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand who were unable to grow crops because of animal menace; are now getting an income of at least ₹20,000 – 30,000 per acre. Installation of efficient units with high-yielding varieties has doubled the farmer’s income,” said a CIMAP official.

Further, it was also quoted that the introduction of lemongrass also provided roughly 2-3 lakh man-days of rural employment. “Overall, the S&T interventions made under this mission contributed greatly to reducing imports of lemongrass oil almost to nil, as well as delivering sufficient quantities of necessities for our domestic businesses and significantly increasing exports,” said the official.

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