Sunday, June 10, 2012

MENTHA CULTIVATION IN INDIA


Mentha cultivation in India

Mentha oil is derived from a plant named “Mentha Arvensis” or common mint. It is an aromatic annual herb plant having pleasant odour leaves and is classified as an industrial crop. Mentha cuttings are sown in the month of December and harvested during March-April. The end product of Mentha oil is extracted from the mint leaves by processing and steam distillation. Mentha oil arrives in market in the month of June-July. Menthol is the major derivative product of Mentha oil. Majority of the oil is converted into menthol and it is considered as one of the basic uses of mint oil. Presently India is the largest producer of Mentha oil in world contributing about 73% of total production.
The origination of mint is not known to the people now, but it is said that it was cultivated in Europe in the ancient times. Commercially, Japan started producing mint around 1870. During that time, it was called Japanese mint and Japan was the leading country in this field. After the 2nd world war was over, Brazil was looked upon by some Japanese producers as mint was found in the Brazilian forests and they started producing mint in Brazil also. Likewise, the production of mint spread over other South American countries too. The production of mint was also taken over other countries of the world like China and India around 1960. In fact, initially India was an importer of menthol but after the green revolution in 1986, mint took off as an agricultural commodity. 
The cultivation of Mentha Arvensis in India is a dramatic & very successful story. Before, 1964, there was no production of Mentha Oil & Menthol in India. The cultivation of Mentha Arvensis was started around 1870 in Japan so it is also called Japani Mint than extant in Brazil, China and Formosa etc. Col. Mr. R.N. Chopra & Dr. I.N. Chopra of Regional Reserch Laboratory Jammu Tawi first brought Mentha Arvensis in 1964 and with the best efforts of Mr. S.C. Bante, Managing Director, Hindustan Richardson Ltd (VICKs), the commercial cultivation could be started in India.

Mentha was introduced as a rabi crop i.e. it was sown in the winter season. It continues to be the scenario currently. This crop prospers on sandy soil that is having high water content. Water logging and low rainfall provide hindrance in proper growth of the crop.
Once the crop reaches the flowering stage, it is harvested as it is during this period when the oil content in plant is at its highest. The harvested crop is then dried in sun, 2-4 hours a day, till it get reduced to one-third of its weight, and then it is sent for distillation. It is dried as the distillation of dried leaves is much more cheaper than non-dried leaves. Over drying the crop may result in soaked up oil content.
Mentha can be combined with potato and maize to get a higher return and increased profitability. Harvesting is done at least twice a season.
On an average, farmers in the study area used around 372 kgs of seeds per hectare. Average yield of mentha realized was the highest among large farmers (71.30 Kgs./ha) followed by medium (70.70 kgs/ha), Marginal (69.4 kgs/ha) and small (68.70 kgs/ha). Cost of cultivation of mentha revealed that, on an average, farmers in the study area incurred, Rs.18709 per ha of cost in growing mint. The details of cost involved in the distillation of mentha oil by farmers were also analyzed and it was revealed that, small units of mentha distillation large farmers did not go for hired distillation as all of them had their own distillation unit. The distillation cost incurred per kg of mentha oil was around Rs.58/- on overall basis. It was around Rs.43/- per kg for marginal and small farmers and a little higher cost was incurred by medium farmers (Rs. 46/kg).


In India there are four kinds of Mentha crop:
(i) Mentha Arvensis
Initially the crop grown was called Japani mint/ Mentha Arvensis but subsequently the problems of rains & dryness, this crop was developed and known as Mentha Shivalik, MSI.
(ii) Mentha Piperita
The USA being the main producer of Mentha Piperita similarly it is also called American piperita. Though India is developing the quality of Mentha Piperita comparing to US crop but we have not yet been able grow successfully till now.
(iii) Mentha Spearmint
(iv) Citrata (Bargamot)
Over all the production of Mentha Spearmint & Citrata in the world is too less.

Time of Plantation (Crop)
Time of Plantation
No. of Harvest
Oil Yield Per Acre
Mentha Arvensis
January 2nd week to Feb. Last
2
60kgs to 90kgs
Mentha Piperita
Dec. Last week to Jan. Last
2
40kgs to 60kgs

 Mentha Spearmint
    Dec. Last week to Jan. Last
2
40kgs to 65kgs

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