Gorakhpur (UP), May 13 : Farmers in some villages in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur District have 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 rooting cuttings in water.
The other three types of mint grown are peppermint, spearmint and bergamot mint. But in this region, menthol farming has become highly popular among farmers.
Encouraged by the profits earned by some of the pioneers of menthol mint cultivation in the neighbourhood, several farmers have taken up its cultivation.
"We started menthol farming three years back. We are earning very well. For one hectare of farming, we spend around 30,000 rupees and 250 kilos oil extracted from it enables us to earn more than a lakh rupees. This year, I have done around 15 hectare of farming," said Virendra Pratap Chand, ex-civil engineer and 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 in a shorter period.
Looking at the success of menthol cultivation and production 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, nearly 1,50,000 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 prevalent in countries like China, America and Brazil. Menthol mint, an aromatic crop is also used for manufacturing menthol oil.
Menthol oil has a great demand in the US, Britain, France, Holland andingapore. Menthol mint essential oil is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. It is also used in medicine as a component of many drugs.
Menthol is also used in cigarettes as an additive, because it blocks out the bitter taste of tobacco and soothes the throat.