4) Encouraging crop diversification through medicinal and aromatic plants (22 November 2004)

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has further strengthened the concept of diversification of the rainfed agriculture system by commissioning a demonstration-cum-training unit for distilling the active ingredients from medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) at its campus at Patancheru.

ICRISAT had launched an initiative to diversify rainfed agricultural systems. Under this initiative, the Watershed Team at ICRISAT is working to increase the income of farmers through the cultivation and marketing of medicinal and aromatic plants. The Team realized that the main bottleneck for exploiting the potential of MAPs was that the buyers controlled the market, since the farmers could not hold the produce for a long period. So if the farmers could convert the MAPs to
value-added products within the village they could command a greater price.

To overcome this constraint, the Watershed Team entered into a collaborative arrangement with a private-sector company, MAK Royale, and established a demonstration-cum-training facility for growing and processing MAPs at
ICRISAT-Patancheru. ICRISAT will conduct collaborative trainings for farmers and NGOs on producing value-added products from MAPs.

According to Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT, the unit will link farmers, NGO representatives, researchers and private sector enterprise in generating value-added products from MAPs. “This is an example that will go a long way in improving the livelihoods of the farmers in the SAT,” Dr Dar said.

Dr SP Wani, Regional Coordinator (Watershed Development), said that the unit would be a value addition to the activities of the ICRISAT-led consortium on watershed development under the Andhra Pradesh Rural livelihoods Program (APRLP). Through a buy-back arrangement, farmers participating in the watershed program will be encouraged to diversify their cultivation base to MAPs.

For further information, contact Dr SP Wani at s(dot)wani(at)cgiar(dot)org.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.