Bhaderwah- About 2,500 farmers in the hilly Bhaderwah town of Jammu and Kashmir have given up their age-old tradition of growing maize to embrace the profitable lavender farming.
Union minister Jitendra Singh said Bhaderwah has created history by bringing purple revolution in the country by adopting the plantation of this aromatic flower.
According to these farmers of Doda district, who are growing lavender under the Union government’s Aroma Mission, the unconventional farming of aromatic plants has helped them become ‘atmanirbhar’.
Lavender was introduced to the temperate regions of the Jammu division by the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) under the CSIR-Aroma Mission in 2018. The institute initially tried to popularise it in Doda, Kishtwar, and Rajouri districts.
Finding suitable cold climate and favourable growing conditions, a couple of small and marginal farmers of Bhaderwah region took the risk and switched to lavender cultivation in 2017. Until then farming of maize crops was the only agricultural practice for them.
Sensing the scope of increasing their income, the farmers joined the initiative under CSIR-Aroma Mission in a big way and within five years, 2,500 farmers started cultivating lavender in their fields at several villages, including Tipri, Lehrote, Killar, Koundla, Himote, Sartingal, Butla, Nalthi and Nakshari.
Singh, the minister of state in the prime minister’s office, said, “I feel very proud as the name of Bhaerwah got recognition in the history of our country due to the success of lavender cultivation.
“When we started the initiative, people were in fear of losses due to unawareness of lavender crop and its market, but we (government) took several initiative to make people aware, resulting thousands of people especially young generation switching from traditional crop to lavender and increase their income and become inspiration for other parts of the country,” the minister told PTI.
Singh, who represents Udhampur parliamentary constituency which also covers Doda, said things have changed for the good as new generation and entrepreneurs are happily working in lavender fields, which not only provide them an opportunity to increase their income by manifold but they are also generating employment for others.
“The government is providing all assistance including funding, technology and marketing to the farmers associated with lavender so that they do not have to face any problem at any stage,” the minister said.
Touqeer Bagban (36), a farmer from Bhaderwah, has come a long way to become an inspiration for many. This Class XI passout is known for changing the face of farming in Bhaderwah.
“I followed the same traditional methods of farming as my forefathers. Due to the limited scope of irrigation in the Kandi belts, we were not able to switch over to other crops which could bring us more profit,” said Bagban, who transitioned from traditional crops such as maize to lavender farming.
Bagban started lavender cultivation on a small piece of land at Dandi village in 2017 and now he owns a company which manufactures aromatic products. His success story and style of farming does not only follow the usual rags-to-riches plot but he has also modernised farming.
“In 2017, I got in touch with IIIM, Jammu and got motivated to cultivate new crops. They provided me with lavender saplings and the results turned out to be fruitful,” Bagban, who has a nursery with 5.5 lakh lavender plants, said.
Farmers come to him not only from J&K but also from other states with similar climates like northeastern states, Uttarakhand and Himachal pradesh to buy lavender seedlings.
Bagban has also installed the machinery to extract oil from lavender flowers and manufacture aromatic products thereby successfully starting a startup and adding value addition to lavender.
The “purple revolution” has also helped women empowerment in a big way.
“After harvesting season of maize and paddy crop in October, we used to remain without work for five months during winters, but lavender farming has given us a new lease of life and we get round the year work in lavender fields,” said Beena Devi (32) of village Dalain, Bhaderwah.
Devi said she and 50 other women of her village have become experts in developing lavender nurseries. (PTI)