India is popularly known for its wide range of medicinally significant plant species, and ranks 8th among nations with the highest levels of biodiversity.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that India’s demand for medicinal plants will increase from the current $14 billion per year to $5 trillion by 2050.  Moreover, the market for lavender oil in India will expand at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.5 percent, while trade is expected to touch $1 billion per year. 

The state of Kashmir in India is perceived as the hub of medicinal plants.  Lavender, particularly, shows promising potential as a therapeutic and aromatic herb that can positively contribute towards India’s economic and medical prospects.  Kashmir’s lavender is captivating both domestic and international markets. Findings have indicated that lavender farming can prove profitable for farmers given a sustained demand and organized farmer activities. To boost lavender production and export, the Government of India has been taking transformational steps.

The Purple Revolution or Lavender Revolution, launched by the Ministry of Science & Technology, aims to promote the indigenous aromatic crop-based agro economy through the ‘aroma mission’ of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The mission aims to increase the income of the farmers and promote lavender cultivation on commercial scale. Lavender oil, which sells for, at least, Rs. 10,000 per liter, is the main commodity. Other popular products include medicines, incense sticks, soaps, and air fresheners. The cultivation of lavender is very cost-effective as it yields a revenue immediately. Jammu and Kashmir’s climatic conditions are conducive to lavender cultivation, since the aromatic plant can withstand both chilly winters and pleasant summers. Additionally, it is a low maintenance crop, which can be used from its second year of plantation and blossoms for fifteen years. In its entirety, lavender production gives better returns when compared to other traditional crops. 

During Phase-I, CSIR assisted in the cultivation of 6000 hectares of land and reached 46 Aspirational Districts nationwide. More than 44,000 people have received training, and farmers have made substantial fortunes. Moving forward, in Phase II, it is envisaged to employ more than 45,000 competent human resources with the goal of assisting more than 75,000 farming households nationwide. 

Under the One District One Product-Districts as Export Hubs (ODOP-DEH) initiative, lavender cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir has experienced a significant boom. Lavender has been designated by the central government as a "Doda brand product" to promote the rare aromatic plant and boost the morale of farmers, entrepreneurs, and agribusinesses involved in its cultivation as part of this Aroma Mission.

The Aroma Mission through the Purple Revolution aims to bring about a revolutionary change in the fragrance industry, consequently promoting the expansion of the aroma sector and generating rural employment, through targeted interventions during cultivation, product refinement, market development and curating an expansion strategy for the lavender crop.

Co-authored by Ritam Dutta Chowdhury 

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