Understanding India’s Aromatic Future with the Purple Revolution

By – Jahnavi Bahadur

India has had numerous colour-coded revolutions since gaining its independence, including the white revolution for milk and dairy goods, the golden revolution for horticulture development, and the green revolution for increased grain yields. The “Purple Revolution” of Jammu and Kashmir, which has affected the livelihoods of numerous farmers, has recently gained attention. Given that experts anticipate a future recession, it is more crucial than ever to become familiar with this developing sector of the economy.

The purple revolution was initiated in 2016 by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology as part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Aroma Mission. The Purple Revolution in India began in Doda, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Now, Lavender farming is practised in almost 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir particularly Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Srinagar, Pulwama, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Kulgam, and Baramulla. The lavender revolution, as its name implies, is centred on the production of lavender oil. Additionally, the lavender water that separates from the lavender oil is used to make incense sticks. Hydrosol from distilled lavender flowers is used to make room fresheners and soaps. The CSIR official page also displays various indigenous scientifically developed aroma products like Polyherbal Toothpaste, Herbal Anti-Inflammatory Pain Relieving Gel, Herbal Mosquito Repellent Candles and Alcohol-Free Herbal Hand Sanitizer. The Purple Revolution gained popularity thanks to these goods and Union Minister of state for Science and Technology, Dr. Jitendra Singh’s claim that the project “offers attractive start-up avenues” in India.

The main goal of the revolution was to make the most of Jammu and Kashmir’s natural endowments and increase lavender production. To fulfil this goal, nascent farmers were given free lavender saplings. On the other hand, those who had formerly produced the crop were charged a fee of ₹ 5 to ₹ 6. Besides seeds, farmers are also provided with technical assistance and essential oil distillation facilities. Choudhary Mohammad Iqbal, director of the Department of Agriculture Production and Farmers Welfare in Kashmir, claims that 500 farmers received 8 lakh lavender plants gratis, and 20 hectares of land were used for cultivation through March 2020. “Technical support and essential oil distillation facilities are also being provided to farmers,” he said.

The revolution aimed to switch from imported aromatic oils to indigenous aromatics and to foster an aromatic agro-economy that is crop-based. It intended to increase the income of the farmers in J&K. Many farmers have shifted from traditional farming to the more lucrative cultivation of lavender. Ali Muhammad, a farmer from the Pulwama area of South Kashmir said, “Traditional farming was not giving us good returns. We are very happy with switching to lavender farming. Lavender farming also does not get much affected by less rainfall”.

The CSIR’s Aroma Mission intends to implement interventions in agriculture, processing, and product development to encourage aromatic growth and development in rural areas. The mission’s objective is to promote the development of aromatic crops for the extraction of essential oils, which are highly sought after in the scent industry. The main development steps that this mission adopts are cultivation, distillation, value addition, and aroma production. This methodical procedure is carried out in phases. CSIR helped cultivate 6000 hectares of land during Phase I. This covered around 46 districts across the Jammu and Kashmir region. Additionally, nearly 44,000 workers received training. Phase II of the Aroma Mission, which will assist more than 75,000 farming families and utilise over 45,000 skilled human resources who are capable of reproducing superior raw material, distilling, fractionating, and value addition, has been launched by the CSIR. This mission seeks to boost farmers’ incomes by ₹30,000 to ₹60,000. More than 25,000 farming households will directly benefit, and the labour force in rural areas will increase by more than 10-15 lakh man-days.

Growing aromatic plants or lavender is regarded as a common agricultural start-up opportunity. It is viewed as a means of enhancing the Skill India Program and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit in the area. It has increased rural incomes and decreased imports of aromatic products like essential oils. The price per kilogramme of the plant’s fragrant oil can reach ₹10,000. Recently, the lavender plant was reintroduced to India, where it has since become a native species. This plant is hardy and can thrive in poor soil. However, there are a few pests or illnesses that can harm it. After three years of cultivation, lavender oil is produced; the perennial plant can persist for up to 20 years. The amount of money farmers can make by growing lavender on the same plot of land can increase by up to five times. This presents a chance for Kashmir’s holistic development by giving the nation’s most underprivileged educated unemployed youth decent employment.

The Purple Revolution in India is a grassroots movement that is slowly gaining momentum. Through education and training in lavender cultivation, this initiative has successfully altered the lives of thousands of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir. The lavender industry, which began with a handful of growers in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, has expanded to include farmers throughout the nation. The boost to the agricultural industry is the most evident advantage, as lavender is a cash crop that can be sold for a decent price. The advantages of lavender extend beyond that, too, as the sector creates jobs in rural regions and the oil produced is utilised in a range of goods, from food to cosmetics. One cannot ignore the fact that while the scent industry for lavender exists, it is but a rather small one in relation to others.

In essence, albeit still in its infancy, the lavender revolution has the potential to fundamentally alter the Indian economy. 


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