Panthal (Reasi), Dec 29 : Cultivated initially to drive away monkeys damaging crops, ‘Special Love’ for Lemon Grass has finally started making growers ‘Atmanirbhar’ in this belt of Reasi district in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Once treated as a form of a wild bush, lemon grass is now the talk of the town, not only among the inhabitants of this district but also across the Union Territory as this rare species of flora has started earning livelihood for the growers in the shape of ‘Lemon Grass Oil’.
Apart from being resourceful in dealing monkey menace, lemon grass oil is believed to be one of the disinfectants, anti-fungal, anti-viral, immunity booster and is used for multi-purpose tasks.
Deputy Commissioner Reasi, Indu Kanwal Chib, who is leading this Mission from the front in making the species vibrantly popular, speaking to UNI said, “Firstly, we were looking for an alternative to monkey menace hitting Katra-Domail road for which we tried so many things but mostly our experiments failed.”
“Then we met Mr Tilak Raj, one of the prominent Lemon Grass growers, who has been working on this subject for the past couple of years, made us understand about its specialities. The same was later discussed at Gram Panchayat levels and farmers’ were made aware about growing the crop.”
“But the biggest challenge we faced was its processing and marketing. We took up the matter with the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (IIIM)-Jammu and signed the MoU with them. They got the processing unit installed at village Sirah along the roadside on around 3 kanals of land,” said the Deputy Commissioner.
“Lemon Grass Oil is a very strong Aroma and we wanted to promote it on a larger scale,” said Ms Chib adding that deliberations with the Army and NHPC are in progress and they have promised to encourage farmers’ by taking the product to the next level through different resources.
She however, said that started from Panchayat Sirah, presently, villagers from Numayee, Arnas and Pouni have also shown keen interest in growing the crop, which is now used to fight monkey menace besides a source of adding extra income to farmers.
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, who is Member Parliament from Udhampur-Kathua Parliamentary Constituency (Reasi district falls in his constituency) while talking to UNI expressed that it is first of its kind experiments and going to be a success story, which is possibly be replicated in other parts of India also.
“It is also a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pro-Farmer approach in the last seven years one after the other,” said Dr Singh.
“Lemon Grass has turned out to be an alternate crop giving them additional income,” he said adding that like other allied vocational programmes, cultivating Lemon Grass is also among that and similarly like Saffron and Lavender of Kishtwar, it is being promoted through the Union Agriculture Ministry.