Updated January 30th, 2024 at 19:15 IST

Mission Aroma: Lavender growers bet big on agritech push to purple revolution

Elated over Republic Day tableau depicting 'purple revolution', J&K's lavender growers are pinning hopes on Interim Budget 2024.

Reported by: Saqib Malik
Purple Revolution | Image:Republic
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Gainful youth empowerment: Elated over the participation of a tableau, at the recently held Republic Day parade in the national capital, depicting lavender cultivation of Jammu & Kashmir, and the success story that led to a ‘purple revolution’ in the Union Territory, progressive lavender farmers have pinned their hope that upcoming Interim Budget 2024 provides a boost to government’s ‘aroma mission’.   

As per Union Ministry of Science and Technology data, the net annual income of farmers who switched from maize to lavender cultivation has increased from around Rs 40,000 to Rs 60,000 per hectare to Rs 3.50 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per hectare. The lavender farmers have earned over Rs 5 crore between 2018 and 2022 by selling dry flowers, lavender plants, and lavender oil. Can India’s agri-tech push encourage more entrepreneurs take up lavender farming? Republic Business takes a deep dive. 

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Crop diversification measure 

34-year-old Touqeer Bagban from Jammu’s Bhaderwah has not just converted his father’s ten-kanal paddy field into a lavender farm but utilised the Union Ministry of Science and Technology’s ‘aroma mission’ to his benefit. Bhadarwah valley has of late been recognised as India’s ‘lavender capital’ for successfully growing exotic aromatic lavender. 

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Image credit: Unsplash 

Similarly, Rubeena Tabassum from Kashmir's Chadoora, is the founder of United Floritech, an oil extracts venture. Rubeena's participation in a ten-day-long Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EWDI) programme on avenues in commercial floriculture in 2006, helped the florist turn her hobby into the brand ‘Kashmir Aromatics'. 

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The farmers associated with the cultivation of lavender are hoping that the government will continue its support in the form of providing free saplings of the aromatic plant to the farmers who also want to switch from traditional farming besides sanctioning more distillation units and helping them establish lavender based units to add value addition.

Bagban who is also known as one of the pioneers of the purple revolution said that the growth of lavender is yet to reach its crescendo and to take the mission further which has already changed the lives of hundreds of farmers, they still require the government's support.

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"We want to go a step further by introducing the value addition of lavender by using all of its waste material to make insane sticks, sanitisers, soaps, hair oil, and room fresheners. We hope that the Union government will consider helping lavender farmers in the upcoming Interim Budget," said Bagban.

 

Incentives for oil-extraction 

In the run-up to Interim Budget 2024, the Department of Economic Affairs in its ‘India Economic Report’ has revealed that of the 2.1 lakh loans sanctioned under the ‘Stand-Up India’ scheme, 84 per cent of loans were provided to women entrepreneurs across the country. The report has also stated that as many as 20 lakh entrepreneurs were trained across the country between 2018-2023. 

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Image credit: Unsplash 

Exemplifying the power of women's entrepreneurs, Rubeena Tabassum has come a long way. Rubeena's participation in a ten-day-long Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EWDI) programme on avenues in commercial floriculture in 2006, helped Rubeena shape her hobby into a brand ‘Kashmir Aromatics'. 

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After undertaking the entrepreneurship program, Rubeena ventured into the cut flowers business. “Soon after completion of the program, my in-laws helped me to get four canals of land on lease on which I had set-up three playhouses for the cultivation of cut flowers. Initially, there was no bank support as most financial institutions were not confident in my plan so I had to opt for a consumer loan,” says Tabassum. 

Seed funding for lavender seeds 

The game-changer moment for Rubeena was winning the Woman Entrepreneur Award in 2007 from J&K Bank, after which there was no looking back for her.  Apart from being a registered florist with the state floriculture department, Tabassum is also registered with the District Industries Center and Medium, Small, and Micro Industry Department, Jammu.

Image credit: Unsplash 

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“Banks started offering me loans and my ideas found acceptance,” says Rubeena adding that this helped her set up the firm ‘United Floritech’. Technical assistance was a cornerstone for setting up hi-tech cut flower units so that cultivation of cut flowers happens under perfect controlled conditions of temperature and humidity by using ultraviolet film and modern means of irrigation such as drip irrigation, the florist added.

“The guidance of the EDI consultant for my project was immense and I even attended various programs on business management and commercial floriculture after my program. My first project also received support from the National Horticulture Board (NHB) in terms of incentives,” Rubeena added. 

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Published January 30th, 2024 at 18:27 IST