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Guntur, Krishna farmers taking up ayurvedic, aromatic crops

Chandrasekhar  |  Guntur 

Many farmers of and Krishna districts have taken the lead in the cultivation of export-oriented ayurvedic and aromatic crops, which are being promoted by the Union and state governments as alternative crops.
While the horticulture department officials of the two districts have sanctioned pilot projects to identify farmers in a short time, many others have also started growing the above crops under the department officials' guidance.
However, instead of rushing for popular aswagandhi and safed musli crops or all ayurvedic and at a time, farmers of the two districts have cautiously opted for cultivation of amla (usiri) and coleus (pashanabhedi) crops under the ayurvedic segment, and lemon grass or citronella and palma rosa or jama rosa under the aromatic segment.
The government, while giving a 50 per cent subsidy on plant material in case of amla (maximum Rs 2,400 per acre) and coleus (Rs 1,000 maximum per acre), is releasing a maximum subsidy of Rs 2,000 per acre for cultivating lemon grass and Rs 500 per acre for palma rosa cultivation.
A 50 per cent subsidy on cost of a distillery unit for extracting oil from lemon grass and palmarosa is given, subject to a maximum of Rs 37,500-40,000 in either case.
Speaking to Business Standard, K Jayachandra Reddy, assistant director of horticulture department, district, said: "The farmers in the district are growing amla in 1,250 acres and coleus in 150 acres. The officials are overseeing targeted pilot projects in amla and coleus in 175 acres and 25 acres respectively. Lemon grass is being raised in 300 acres and palma rosa in 250 acres, which is more than the initial target of 37 and 75 acres respectively. About 100 farmers belonging to Macherla, Vinukonda, Repalle and Narasaraopet are in the forefront in the cultivation of these crops."
"A farmer is expected to harvest 25 to 40 kg of amla fruit per tree with at least 200 plants per acre. The companies pay Rs 15 per kg of amla. Some trend-setting farmers, who have taken up amla farming a few years ago, claim that they are earning Rs 50,000 net profit per acre a year on amla with practically no recurring expenditure. With a projected harvest of 800-900 kg per acre, a quintal of good and dried coleus plant roots will fetch farmers Rs 4,500. Organic farming is a must for this crop," he said.
"Mumbai and Hyderabad-based scent companies are ready to buy oils extracted from lemon grass and palma rosa, the two main aromatic products. Lemon grass oil will fetch a minimum income of Rs 300 per litre and palma rosa oil Rs 275 per litre," he added.
M Venkateswarlu, assistant director of horticulture department, Krishna district, told Business Standard that farmers had taken up cultivation of amla in 175 acres, coleus in 60 acres, lemon grass in 38 acres and palma rosa in 50 acres in the district.
The farmers, however, are worried over marketing these crops. A number of farmers were recently taken to a buyer-seller meeting organised by the government in Hyderabad to boost up cultivation of ayurvedic and aromatic plants in the state.
"The horticulture department has taken up implementation of a Rs 8-crore area development scheme in Krishna district specially for encouraging cultivation of oil palm, which is also classified as an alternative crop. The district now records oil palm cultivation in 7,500 acres only. The department staff have identified Bapulapadu, Nuzveed, Musunur, Ungutur, G Kondur, Mylavaram, Agiripalli and Gannavaram mandals as suitable areas for the oil palm scheme," he said.
"Around 1,000 acres of new land would be selected every year for oil palm cultivation and the department will help farmers with guidance, subsidies and bank loans. Venkateswarlu said.
Nabard has fixed a unit cost at Rs 48,000 per hectare of which banks would give Rs 25,000 as loans. The total project cost over three years is Rs 8 crore. Krishna District Central Co-operative Bank, Krishna District Grameena Bank, Andhra Bank, Indian Bank, State Bank of India, Corporation Bank, Central Bank and Syndicate Bank will take part in the scheme. Nabard AGM K S M Lakshmi, who has prepared the scheme, would monitor the scheme execution."

First Published: Mon, November 01 2004. 00:00 IST