Gorakhpur, May 13 : Farmers in some villages in Gorakhpur District of Uttar Pradesh has shifted to menthol mint farming, finding it more lucrative than the traditional crops like wheat and rice.
Menthol is one of the varieties of mint, a perennial herb that is propagated by root division or root cuttings in water.
The other three types of mint are peppermint, spearmint and bergamot mint, but in this region menthol farming has become highly popular among farmers.
Encouraged by the profits of some of the pioneers of menthol mint cultivation in the neighbourhood, several farmers have taken up its cultivation.
"I started this farming three years back and we are earning very well now. For one hectare of farming we spend around 30,000 rupees and 250 kilos of oil is extracted from it, costing over a lakh rupees. This year I have done around 15 hectare of farming and the villages in two-three villages around have adopted the same," said Virendra Pratap Chand, a Civil Engineer turned cultivator.
20-40 degree Celsius of temperature and 100-110 centimeter of rainfall are the ideal weather conditions for the cultivation of menthol mint.
The fertile soil found in Indo-Gangetic plains is most appropriate to grow menthol mint and the crop can be harvested over a shorter period.
Looking at the success of menthol cultivation and the high yield of oil, buyers are approaching farmers on their own initiative.
"There is no marketing problem. We sow plants and later extract oil. Marketing merchants themselves come, weigh the produce and buy it from us. This type of farming is good and beneficial," said Vijay Bahadur Singh, a farmer.
Some farmers have set up distillation plants where oil is extracted and sold at a good price.
In India, about 1.50 lakh hectare is under menthol farming. The impact of commercial farming on the agrarian economy of the state is already visible in the region.
Menthol farming is also carried in countries like China, America and Brazil.
Menthol mint, an aromatic crop is also used for manufacturing menthol oil. Menthol mint essential oil is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes.
Menthol is also used in cigarettes as an additive, because it blocks out the bitter taste of tobacco and soothes the throat.
Menthol oil has a great demand in the US, Britain, France, Holland and Singapore. By Pawan Shah