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Kashmir’s Aroma Industry: Potential and Constraints

Post by on Thursday, July 15, 2021

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Aromatic plants possess odorous volatile substances which occur as essential oil in one or more parts viz. root, wood, bark, stem, foliage, flower and fruit. The characteristic aroma is due to a variety of complex chemical compounds. The term essential oil is concomitant to fragrance or perfumes because these fragrances are oily in nature and they represent the essence or the active constituents of the plants. Essential oils are highly concentrated, low volume, high value products. About 2000 species out of the 4,50,000 species known to mankind contain essential oils. The volatile oils occur in different  parts of the plant as in the rose petals are rich  in oil  while as in lavender spikes, Mint leaves, Sage flowers  and in cumin, fennel, etc, in seeds and in vetiver in the roots are sources of essential oils
The Global aroma market of essential oils constitutes about 17 per cent. The estimate of world production of essential oils varies from 40,000 to 100,000 tonnes per annum in which demand for spice oils is 2,000 tonnes per annum. Around 1500 species of aromatic plants serve as a source of raw materials and only 50 species find use as a commercial source of essential oils. Essential oils help in developing perfumery and cosmetic products and generate employment directly as well as indirectly through  cosmetics, soaps, pharmaceuticals, perfumery, confectionery, ice-creams, aerated waters disinfectants, tobacco, agarbathis and other manufacturing industries.
In the last few decades  essential oil demand has increased at national as well as international level as the role of essential oils has increased many folds from an industrial point of view. Aromatherapy or we may say use of essential oils in  therapeutics is becoming popular in western countries and the same is now progressing in India. One example is use of lavender oil in headaches  and the use of a lavender pillow for ease of sleeping. Some of the essential oils are reported to be in many ways better than antibiotics due to their safety.
The history of the use of aromatics dates back through many ages and many civilizations. It is, however, difficult to pinpoint when exactly man first used essential oils. India has enjoyed a pre-eminent position in the manufacture of superior perfumes and aromatics since ancient times and the industry has flourished and grown considerably. The famous Chinese traveller Fahien described India as the land of aromatic flowers, fruits, woods, roots, resins and grasses. In ancient India, perfumers were important traders; they were called ‘gandhikas’, who created their own blends of perfumes and incense in the form of liquid, sticks, powders, pastilles and pastes.
In Sanskrit literature, there is a description of the toilette of a Mauryan queen, where her perfumes were freshly made by her maid. In the Ain-e-Akbari, Abul Fazal mentions Akbar’s love of attar and incense, “daily burnt in gold and silver censers”. At a later date, an apocryphal tale credits the Empress Noorjehan with discovering the attar of roses. She is said to have noticed the rose-oil floating on the surface of her bath-water and, thus, the legendary attar of rose was born. Indian India  Kannauj emerged as an important area as far as the aromatic industry is concerned.
Current status:
The world’s total production of essential oils is estimated at about 1,00,000 – 110000 tonnes, and India stands third with a share of 16-17%. In value terms again, India’s position is No. 2 and its share is 21- 22%. Brazil with its production of citrus oil at 40000 tonnes is the largest producer of essential oils in the world. However, its share in value terms is 90% while the USA is the largest producer and consumer of essential oils. India also imports some of these items worth nearly Rs. 265.58 crores annually. Among the essential oils exported from India are Japanese mint oil, peppermint oil, sandalwood oil, jasmine and tuberose concretes and many other natural and synthetic perfumes in small quantities. India also imports a variety of essential oils such as geranium, anise, patchouli, orange, lavender, nutmeg, peppermint, citronella (Java), synthetic essential oils, etc, along with many other natural and synthetic perfumes.
Hydro distillation, steam distillation, hydro diffusion, effleurage, maceration, expression and solvent extraction are available for the extraction of essential oils from different parts viz. roots, stems, barks, leaves, flowers, fruits and heartwoods.
Opportunities for aromatic crop cultivation in Kashmir
Kashmir has a potential to grow top ten aromatic crops like rose, lavender, rosemary, Geranium, clary sage, mint and among these rose and lavender are having prime importance in the world market. Rose and lavender can be grown in karewas of Kashmir where there is lack of irrigation facility. The quality of oil is excellent as agro climatic conditions of Kashmir are highly suitable for quality production and yield. Keeping in view the potential of the aromatic industry in Kashmir, an aroma mission is going on in which farmers are being facilitated with basic inputs for raising the crops of lavender and processing facility is also ensured. Besides this under different schemes of government inputs for cultivation and processing are facilitated to farmers for taking up such crops in such areas where there is lack of irrigation. This means that our karewas can be used for sustainable cultivation with assured markets. It is being estimated that on one ha of land around Rs 8 lakh can be earned in case of rose oil extraction, 4 lakhs in case of Lavender cultivation and other crops like Mint, Clary sage, rosemary etc give good returns as well. The aromatic industry is now progressing in Kashmir. Under different missions of the Government of India area under cultivation of aromatic crops is increasing and Kupwara  and Budgam districts are leading in the cultivation. As we see a lot of karewas lands are without cultivation  it envisages great scope for cultivation of aromatic crops especially rose and lavender, the oil of both are in good demand for perfumery.
The success story of Mrs Rubeena Tabasum an entrepreneur in Aromatic crops in district Budgam of Kashmir  is encouraging to beginners. Mrs Rubeena started a small venture in 2006 namely UNITED FLORITECH and branded the name Kashmir aroma. Currently she is cultivating lavender on 300 Kunals and rose on 100 Kunals with production of lavender oil 150 liters and 1000 liters of rose water besides kg’s of rose oil.
As per the government reports around 686 ha are under cultivation of Aromatic crops in Kashmir with a turnover of Rs 70 lakhs.
Scope of aromatic industry can be understood by the following points:
 1. The demand for essential oils is increasing day by day with the advancement of education and prosperity in the country as fragrance plays a vital role in securing consumer acceptability in almost every product used. Kashmir agro climatic conditions are highly suitable for cultivation of aromatic crops which has a great market demand at national as well as at international level. India imports Lavender oil from other countries and this proves the scope of cultivation in Kashmir which is highly feasible for cultivation of such crops.In Kashmir karewas and dry areas where irrigation n facilities are not available and no other crop except lavender and rose for oil extraction purposes can be taken up.It is proved from research point of view that Kashmir has a potential of quality production and productivity of  essential oils.
2. The search for natural resources has been intensified as synthetics have failed to provide versatility and a situation of saturation and later stagnation started developing.
3. Aromatherapy is gaining momentum across the world and the interest in aromatics for their therapeutic value is also increasing due to the worldwide scare of the side-effects of synthetics and the revival of interest in herbs.
4. Natural essential oils have the potential of being very safe insecticides.
5. Essential oil crops are much better earners and, value-wise, their transportation cost is also much lower. Aromatic crops ought to get a high priority, next to food.
6. The growing and processing of aromatic crops is labour-intensive and, hence, generates a lot of employment.
According to one estimate, against the world trade of Rs.11,900 crores, the Indian share is only 2%. This clearly indicates that the rate of growth of these crops in relation to their economic prospects is not at all satisfactory. Inefficient organization, lack of research, unplanned exploitation of natural resources, failure to grow them on a large scale, inferior methods of production, malpractices and adulteration are some of the reasons for the present poor state of affairs. It is unfortunate that interspaces in the perennial plantations, vast stretches of forests and lands as barren, waste and marginal are lying fallow, when they can be gainfully used to raise aromatic raw materials. Lack of support in  cultivation of aromatic crops and extraction of essential oils and perfumes is visible.
Crops which can be commercialized for sustainable entrepreneurship development, livelihood security by utilizing karewas and areas lacking irrigation.
Lavender (Lavendula Linn.) is a small genus of perennial aromatic herbs, semi-shrubs or shrubs of the Lamiaceae family. It includes about 28 species. Three species of Lavendula are extensively utilized for extracting essential oils. Lavender oil has a delightfully clean, refreshing and sweet odour. Its main constituent is the ester, linalyl acetate, which ranges from 30 to 60% and to which the characteristic lavender odour is attributed. Another compound which is present only in small amounts but plays an important role in the odour is ethyl-n-amyl ketone. Free linalool is also a major component, particularly of the English lavender oil, which has a peculiar heavy and slightly camphoraceous odour. The other compounds present in lavender oil are: α-pinene, camphene, β-pinene, limonene, cineole, cis-oscimene, trans ocimene, camphor terpinen-4-0l, caryophyllene, lavandulyl acetate, lavandulol, α-terpineol and borneol. The oil is also used in medicine as a flavouring agent and sometimes as a carminative. Lavender flowers are used in making sachets and potpourri.
Scented Geranium
Scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is one of the important aromatic crops, yielding an essential oil which is highly priced for its very profound and strong rose-like odour. The plant is also known as rose Scented geranium. The chief constituents of the oil are geraniol and citronellol. It is widely used in scenting soaps and for the isolation of rhodinal which forms part of most high-grade perfumes.
Mints are a group of perennial herbaceous plants, belonging to the family Lamiaceae; which yield essential oil on distillation. The various species of mints which are commercially cultivated in different parts of the world are: Japanese mint or corn mint or field mint (Mentha arvensis) peppermint (M. piperita L.), spearmint or lamb mint (M. spicata L.) and bergamot mint or orange mint (M. citrata). The fresh leaves contain 0.4-6.0% oil. The main constituents of the oil are menthol (65-75%), menthane (7-10%) and menthyl acetate (12-15%) and terpenes (pipene, limonene and camphene). Menthol is used in the flavouring of a large number of pharmaceutical and oral preparations like toothpastes, dental creams, confectionery, beverages and other items like tobacco, cigarettes and paan masala.
   Wild marigold (Tagetes minuta L.) is a highly demanded aromatic plant, having great industrial value. Major constituents of its essential oil are β-ocimene, dihydrotagetone, tagetone, tagete-none, and limonene. The current market demand for tagetes oil is increasing at a faster rate due to its large use in the flavour and perfumery industry. Its oil and plant extract has potential bioactive and therapeutic properties.
Salvia (Sage)
Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, common sage, or culinary sage) is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. Sage components include etheric essential oil, thujone, cineole, linalool, borneol, salven, pinene and camphor, tannins, triterpene, flavones, isoflavones, and resinous components. There are triterpene and flavones in its essential oil. Sage extract contains 1–60% monoterpene, 0.4–3.5% triterpene, and 1.1% flavonoid. Sage is also used by people as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, expectorant, and for hyperhidrosis.
 Rose petals are used to obtain rose oil and rose water Bulgarian rose oil is used in soap and cosmetic industry. The species which are used to obtain rose oil are Rosa damasceana, R.borboniana, R.alba, R.gallica. As far as Indian perfumery is concerned R.damasceana and R.borboniana are used for extraction of rose oil. Bulgaria is the largest producer of rose oil. R.damacaena is the highest rose oil yielder.
The oil content of R.damascena is 0.057 to 0.058%, R.borboniana 0.040 to 0.042 % and that of R.teplitz is 0.03 to 0.035 %. Rose water is another product of rose petals and it has multiple uses as it is used in eye drops, drinking water, and is sprinkled on important occasions for its aroma.

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