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Thelamara farmers find livelihood by cultivating lemon grass, citronella

By Shambhu Boro

TEZPUR, July 1 - At a time when many educated people in the country are reeling under the unemployment problem, the educated unemployed people in most of the districts in Assam have found a solid income-generating way by cultivating lemon grass and citronella under the national project �CSIR-Aroma Mission�.

It is to be mentioned here that there are acres of barren land in and around Thelamara area in Sonitpur district. Many farmers like Dhaneswar Kurmi, Subhan Kurmi and Uttam Das who have got good returns by cultivating lemon grass and citronella told this correspondent that earlier they were unsuccessful in any kind of cultivation. After coming into contact with officials from the CSIR-Aroma Mission, they cultivated lemon grass and citronella that was found to be very much suitable for their lands which had remained unused for many years. These farmers who cultivated lemon grass and citronella only a couple of months back have started harvesting their crops with a good income.

On June 27 last, a team from the mission comprising Dr RK Srivastava, Senior Scientist and Head (Rural), from CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and Dr Nima Dondu Namsa from the Department of Bio-Technology, Tezpur University handing over the first turnover to the farmers in Thelamara area expressed their satisfaction and mentioned that the Aroma Mission was launched in June 2017 by the Director General, CSIR-CIMAP Dr Girish Sahni and Director CSIR-CIMAP Prof Anil Kumar Tripathi with a target of covering about 12,000 acres by plantation of aromatic crops by five R&D laboratories wherein CSIR-CIMAP will work as the nodal laboratory under the supervision of Prof Anil Kumar Tripathi as the Mission Director.

�As part of the nationwide programme in September 2017, more than 12 acre area was covered by plantation of lemon grass slips under the CSIR Aroma Mission� Dr Srivastava said and added that the project was initiated for doubling farmer�s income from their available infrastructure. Echoing the same, Asstt Professor Dr Nima Dandu Namsa who is the man behind the implementation of the project in the region mentioned that though the CSIR Aroma Mission is a Lucknow-based farmer�s national level welfare programme, in the beginning it had to face certain challenges while implementing the project in the region following the lack of awareness among the farmers. �They approached the Department of Bio-Technology of Tezpur University for working in this field in a joint venture. Accordingly, after the survey and awareness programme at Thelamara village near Tezpur in Sonitpur district, the project was started and now we have harvested the crops of lemongrass that are ready for distillation,� Dr Namsa said.

Dr RK Srivastava, Nodal Officer for NER, who is presently working in this field with technical and logistic support from the Department of Bio-Technology of Tezpur University interacting with this correspondent, said that the field distillation unit has also been installed for proper distillation of the aromatic crops which is under Mission project. �We have received valuable oil from the crops of lemongrass which costs Rs 1250 per kg. We are tying up with leading buyers and manufacturers of fragrance and flavour for direct benefits of the farmers of Thelamara cluster.� He added that next year the area will be more than double as farmers are showing more interest in lemongrass and citronella plantation. He has also mentioned that they are going to sign an MoU with the Tezpur University for the project.

On the other hand, receiving their turnover, Dhaneswar Kurmi of Thelamara said that this is one of the best economically viable cultivations which can provide double income with a minimum cost of production. �It is a non-grazing cultivation having no risk of damage caused by other animals, but it provides a handsome income. Once you plant, it will keep generating income. So I am of the opinion that besides other cultivation, our farmers should go for this cultivation too,� Dhaneswar Kurmi said.

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