Women on a mission to turn turmeric leaves into liquid gold in Telangana

Scientists at the research station have confirmed that turmeric leaves contain essential oils that can be used in medicines, cosmetics and other products.
By extracting oil from the leaf of the plant, these women want to ensure that turmeric has another use case and motivate others to start a similar organisation.
By extracting oil from the leaf of the plant, these women want to ensure that turmeric has another use case and motivate others to start a similar organisation. Photo | Express

NIZAMABAD : While turmeric is no longer one of India’s best-kept secrets anymore, with people across the world recognising its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, among others, a women-led self-help group (SHG) from Gummiryal village in Ergatla mandal of the district, renowned for its turmeric production, has gone a step further in realising the potential of the turmeric plant and spreading its goodness.

By extracting oil from the leaf of the plant, these women want to ensure that turmeric has another use case and motivates others to start a similar organisation. A major crop in the district, hordes of turmeric plants are destroyed or burned by farmers after the harvest season, leading to air pollution in the process. However, local farmers realised that the leaves of turmeric plants hold immense potential and approached the CSIR-CIMAP Research Centre in Boduppal, Hyderabad.

Scientists at the research station have confirmed that turmeric leaves contain essential oils that can be used in medicines, cosmetics and other products. This oil is in high demand, both locally and internationally, market experts say.

Ten women from the Manikanta SHG decided to establish a turmeric oil plant in their village. They approached the ICICI Foundation. With its support of Rs 12.5 lakh along with Rs 2.5 lakh invested by the SHG members, they have set up the oil unit.

The distillation plant works with steam to separate water and oil, both of which will be sold in the market. In an initial experiment, they used one tonne of leaves to produce 8 to 9 litres of essential oil, which they sell at a rate of Rs 600 per litre. Soma Raja Reddy was appointed the coordinator to promote the initiative and sell the product in the market.

Numerous health benefits

Highlighting the environmental benefits of the initiative, Soma tells TNIE that traditionally, after harvesting, farmers burn the turmeric leaves, causing harm to the environment. By extracting essential oil from the leaves, the SHG intends to avoid this harm and instead sell it to pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, as well as manufacturers of organic medicines. This presents a new economic opportunity for rural areas, he adds.

Soma says that from the next season, they will start preparations for producing large quantities of turmeric essential oil and also decide on pricing for the market. He adds that they can easily earn `1.50 lakh per month after deducting all expenditures.

Furthermore, some turmeric farmers in the district are hopeful about the establishment of more value-added product units following the announcement of the National Turmeric Board by the Union government.

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