RANCHI: Farming of medicinal and aromatic plants will soon replace opium cultivation in the Naxal infested Khunti district of Jharkhand. The State Government, in order to check rampant opium cultivation in the region, has been promoting plantation of medicinal plants, which also gives returns at par with that of poppy cultivation.
The initiative is being taken by CIMAP-Lucknow and Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) in association with a local NGO, Seva Welfare Society, which is creating awareness among the people about the benefits of medicinal plants.
According to police sources, the CPI (Maoists) and People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) are involved in illegal cultivation of poppy in Khunti, which is the second largest producer of poppy in Jharkhand after Chatra, another Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected district.
Thousands of acres of poppy cultivation are destroyed by police every year but that has failed to check the problem as it involves huge profits for both farmers and Naxals.
“When we got to know that hilly areas are suitable for the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants, we decided to give it a try here and started cultivation of gerenium, tulsi, menthol mint, vetiver and lemon grass. About 3 litres of oil was obtained from Gerenium cultivation from 25 decimal of land in Kaparia, resulting in a profit of Rs 50,000 for the farmer,” said Rural Development Minister Neel Kanth Singh Munda.
Similarly, a plant has also been set up for obtaining lemon grass oil in Anigara, while cultivation of tulsi is being done in 50 acres of land in Kalamati, he added.