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Himachal farmers double incomes by switching to marigold flowers

Himachal farmers have reasons to cheer

Farmers in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh have doubled their income by switching to the cultivation of aromatic plants and wild marigold flowers from traditional crops like maize, paddy and wheat, according to an official statement.

The oil extracted from from the improved variety of wild marigold (Tagetes minuta) is being sold at Rs 9500 for a kg and used for preparing perfumes and essences by pharmaceutical industries.

A self-help group (SHG) consisting of 40 farmers called Green Valley Kissan Sabha Parwai has been formed and linked to Himachal Gramin Bank, Parchhod, for further financial help.

A distillation unit of 250 kg capacity was installed at Parwai village and farmers trained into agro-technology of wild marigold, extraction of oil, packing, and storage of oil started cultivating wild marigold and distilling oil from it.

The income of farmers which was around Rs. 40,000-50,000 per hectare from traditional crops have increased to about Rs. 1,00,000 per hectare by cultivation and extraction of wild marigold oil.

In another initiative, farmers have improved pollination by adopting mud hive beekeeping technology which has enhanced apple production resulting in an increase in the income of apple growers 1.25 times. Society for farmers Development, Talhar in Mandi district got mud hives fabricated by trained farmers which were put in their apple orchards, covering a total of 20 hectares in 6 villages.

A common facility centre (CFC) has been established in the village, and farmers have been trained in processing and packing honey. They are also selling honey at Rs. 500-600/kg at the local level.

Mud Hive Technology is a combination of wall hive & wooden hive technology, with a habitat like wall hive. It has inbuilt provision for putting frames inside the mud hive and more favorable conditions, especially temperature for bees throughout the year as compared to wooden hives.

The technology has brought about better colony growth & less swarming as compared to earlier used wooden boxes because of the favourable conditions they created. Introduction of indigenous bees, which can survive better in the apple growing areas, to replace the Italian bees through this technology has helped increase the average productivity of apple orchards by around 25 per cent.