After Lavender & Marigold, farmers cashing on Tagetes Minuta in Bhaderwah

Women collecting Tagetes Minuta in Bhaderwah. -Excelsior/Tilak Raj
Women collecting Tagetes Minuta in Bhaderwah. -Excelsior/Tilak Raj

Excelsior Correspondent

BHADERWAH, Dec 12: After bringing purple revolution by growing exotic lavender, followed by large scale cultivation of marigold under the Aroma Mission, farmers in Doda district have gone a step further and are reaping the benefits by utilizing another aromatic plant–Tagetes Minuta.
Popularly known as Southern Marigold or Stinking Roger, which grows wildly and in abundance in this picturesque valley, Tagetes Minuta has brought a new hope for the marginal farmers and labourers who used to stay idle in the Chenab valley region after the completion of harvesting season in November.
An award winning farmer and entrepreneur Touqeer Bagban of JK Aroma, who was instrumental in bringing the purple revolution to Bhaderwah by joining hands with CSIR under Aroma Mission, encouraged locals to collect wildly grown flowers from their surroundings and waste land after getting technical support and a go ahead from the scientists of IIIM to extract Aromatic oil from these flowers.
“I was surprised when during a workshop at Delhi, I came to know from the scientists of CSIR that the wild flowers which grow and spread like a weed in the entire Bhaderwah can be used to get essential oil”, Bagban said.
He said hundreds of poor farmers who traditionally remain jobless in winters due to harsh weather conditions are reaping the benefits by joining hands to fulfill Prime Minister’s dream of becoming global leader in essential oils and make Jammu and Kashmir as “Bulgaria of India” under Aroma Mission 2.
Bagban said so far 100 quintals of flowers were collected by JK Aroma from Chinta, Manthala, Mathola, Duggi, Dandi, Thanhala, Basti, Bhala, Butla and Seri villages.
“At the beginning, I was a little apprehensive about the quality of oil extracted from the Tagetes Minuta but in the laboratory tests it turned out to be one of the best available in essential oil market”, he said, adding “we managed to extract 250 liters of oil which costs almost double than the lavender oil”.
Beside extracting oil from the plant, Bagban said “we have also collected the seeds and hopefully next year, we will distribute free seeds among 300 farmers of Bhaderwah to grow the flower in their respective fields.”
Dozens of farmers and labourers, majority of them women are a happier lot as they are earning between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 per day by collecting Tagetes Minuta flowers that too from their surroundings and waste land.
Some unemployed educated youth have also joined Aroma Mission to start and give a new dimension to their career.