Unseasonal rainfall in Uttar Pradesh this June has caused heavy losses to peppermint cultivation. The Lekhpal (the village level official who takes care of land-related matters, like land disputes, compensation etc.) has not yet reached most villages to estimate the volume of loss. The state Horticulture Department has no statistics about the crop losses.
Some figures about Peppermint cultivation
- There are four lakh peppermint farmers in India. China, France and America import peppermint from India in large volumes.
- In 1994, 50 hectares of land was under peppermint cultivation. Today, two lakh hectares of land is under peppermint cultivation. 75% of this cultivation happens in Uttar Pradesh
- The largest volume of peppermint farming in Uttar Pradesh happens in Barabanki district.
Faizabad district, Tarun and Purabazaar Block
Ramnarayan of Budapur village in Tarun Block tells us that he has been cultivating peppermint for two years. Last year, the crop was good and the rates were also very good. ‘With this in mind, I planted an extra bigha of peppermint this year, and then the rains came early!’
In Lotan Lal hamlet, Nirmal told us that the rain had destroyed two-and-a-half bighas of her peppermint crop. The same situation can be seen in Khathauli, Basanti ka purwa and Ojhane. In Malethu village of Purabazaar Block, Jagdish told us that the crop was flooded by excess rainfall and two bighas of his peppermint crop were destroyed.
Dr. A.K. Singh, researcher at the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, said that this year approximately 25-30 of the peppermint crop has been adversely affected, in terms of yield and quality. According to the Joint Director of the State Horticulture Department, losses have occurred but not the kind that cannot be recovered. The department will release a report after assessing the damage.
Lucknow, Barabanki and Unnao districts
In Gonara village, Ram Asare told us that he had planted peppermint on 10 bighas of land. Every year he gets between 20-22 litres of peppermint oil from his crop. This year, his expenses on irrigation, pesticides and labour came to between 9000-10000 rupees. And only 12 litres of peppermint oil came of his crop. Even with this yield, the quality of the oil was so bad that he was only able to sell it for 850 rupees a litre.
In Kasimpur Biruha village of Gosaiganj block (Lucknow), Ganeshi Prasad told us that one bigha of his peppermint crop was washed away by the rains. Roop Narayan, from the same village, said ‘We have a tank to extract peppermint oil here. But where we usually get 10 kgs of oil from one tank of peppermint, this year we are being able to extract only 3 kgs. In Barabanki district, Rajesh, who owns a peppermint oil godown, said that last year the rate of oil was high due to high demand. Seeing this, new farmers have also sown peppermint and the supply has increased. But this year, due to the early rain, the crop has been destroyed, and additionally the quality has decreased – leading to lower rates for peppermint oil.