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Rosemary herb, a money-spinner for tribals

R. Sundaram

Crop can be harvested in 6 months, one kg of oil fetches Rs. 1,400



WITH CARE: Farmers attend to rosemary plants in Thamaraikarai region in Bargur forests. — Photo: M. Govarthan

ERODE: Rosemary, a medicinal and aromatic plant, cultivated in Bargur forest has become a money-spinner for tribal farmers.

Talking to The Hindu on Thursday, the Myrada Krishi Vigyan Kendra Project Officer, P. Azhagesan, said that Bargur was located about 800 metres above sea level. Bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the area had several tribal settlements. Tribals cultivated ragi, maize, beans, onion and other forest produce and sold them at meagre prices.

The MYRADA (Mysore Rural Development Agency) Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Gobichettipalayam, selected 25 acres in Thurusanampalayam, Oosimalai, Eeratty, Elachipalayam, Vettamangalam and other tribal settlements and instructed them to raise rosemary herb (Rosmarinus officinalis of the family Labiatiae). Technical assistance was given to farmers. A Growers' Association was formed with the help of tribals and trained to raise nurseries of rosemary.

High oil content

The herb with high oil content is used for medicinal purposes and also in perfumes. Farmers can harvest it within six months. The leaves are collected and distilled for oil. He said that from 500 kg of leaves, five kilogram of oil could be extracted. A kilogram of oil fetched as much as Rs. 1,400. HOPE, a non-Governmental organisation in Udhagamandalam, had provided saplings to farmers and was also buying the leaves.

Drought-resistant crop

A drought-resistant crop, rosemary can provide yield for 10 years. Animals would keep off the herb due to its smell.

The Collector, D. Karthikeyan, along with the District Rural Development Agency Project Officer, R. Rajashree, visited rosemary fields in Thamaraikarai on Wednesday.

Speaking to mediapersons, he said that rosemary oil was used in aromatherapy for skin care, muscles and joints. At present, farmers in the area had raised the herb on over 25 acres.

He said that a loan of Rs. 3 lakhs would be arranged to install an oil extraction machine. If the crushing was done by farmers themselves, they could earn more, he said.

R. Veena of the Kendra said that it was proposed to extend rosemary cultivation to another 25 acres in Bargur forest. She advised the farmers to use organic manure for the crop and water it once in 15 days. The first harvest was done in December and the second harvest would be in July or August. Each farmer could earn a minimum of Rs. 20,000 per year for an acre of rosemary.

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