Lemon grass cultivation a boon for Kandi area
In the Kandi areas of the state, where large portions of land are not fit for cultivation, communities have started growing lemon grass. This has drastically reduced their dependence on doing minor jobs as livelihood and also made them self-reliant.punjab Updated: Aug 26, 2012 23:34 IST
In the Kandi areas of the state, where large portions of land are not fit for cultivation, communities have started growing lemon grass. This has drastically reduced their dependence on doing minor jobs as livelihood and also made them self-reliant.
The transformation has been the result of a successful intervention of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana (GADVASU).
In the Kandi Area four blocks namely- Bhunga, Dasuya, Hajipur and Talwara, are considered to be the most disadvantaged blocks, but after the intervention of GADVASU, life of nearly 2,500 families from 40 villages has changed for the better.
The university was awarded a project titled "Sustainable Livestock Based Farming System for Livelihood Security in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab" for Rs 4.12 crore as the lead institute for four years (2008-09 to 2012) under a National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP).
The other consortium partners in the project are Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; Punjab Dairy Development Department and The Unati Co-operative Marketing-cum-Processing Society Limited, Talwara.
"The major problems in the area are non availability of sufficient water, destruction of crops by wild/stray animals, comparatively poor soil, low productivity and reproduction of dairy animals, paucity of funds, low yielding seeds, high price of inputs and lack of extension services. We have tried to yield maximum results to farmers and the labourer," said GADVASU vice-chancellor Dr VK Taneja.
The university's intervention has lead to an increase in an average family's income from Rs 12,500 to Rs 23,000 per annum, said the VC, releasing the data.
"We have introduced scientific cultivation of lemon grass. Lemon grass is a tall, perennial aromatic plant with dense bunch of long green leaves. It requires less water. It can grow easily on infertile land. Lemon grass oil, distilled from its leaves, has strong lemon-like odour that is used in perfumery for various grades of soaps, detergents, cosmetics, insect repellents, room fresheners, ayurvedic preparations and flavouring agent for soft drinks," he said.
Under NAIP, lemon grass was introduced at the farm of Raghunath of Seeprian village in Hajipur Block. Initially, he started cultivation of lemon grass in two kanals. Within three years, he increased the area to 15 acres. He is able to extract about 80-100 kg of oil annually per acre. This is sold @ Rs 500-550 per Kg. Thus, on an average, a farmer in Kandi area could earn about Rs 40,000 per acre after deducting all his expenditures.
After extracting the oil, approximately 120-160 quintals of biomass is produced per acre, which is sufficient for 30-50 quintal of ropes.
Under the NAIP sub-project, four families were encouraged to prepare ropes from lemon grass waste. One farmer can make eight kg of better quality rope with a Rope Making Machine (provided under NAIP). The prevalent practice in the area was to procure Munj and Bhabbar grass at Rs 20 a kg and Rs 10 a kg, respectively from fellow farmers engaged in grass-collection.
Each farmer could make 2-4 kg of rope in a day and could earn up to a maximum gross income of Rs 4,800 per month.
An oil extraction plant has also been installed at Raghunath's farm with the help of Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. GADVASU has now started exploring therapeutic and preservative values of this lemongrass oil.
The VC said that sub-project will continue up to Dec, 2013, with the help of Regional Research and Training Centre, Bhatoli (Talwara). He added that from now interventions like the up-gradate of local cattle with Jersey, goat farming under stall fed conditions, emu farming and water conservation will be taken up. Over 5,000 families are expected to benefit. Lemon grass oil is used in the perfumes apart from other cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses.