How rural women in J&K discovered the sweet scent of self-reliance

Several farmers in Reasi have taken up lemongrass cultivation, and this has helped women of a number of villages to build self-reliant enterprises | Image - Eunice Dhivya | All photos by Bivek Mathur

Back in 2016, Tilak Raj Brat, a farmer in Sirah village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, was fed up with the menace of monkeys. Every time he and other farmers grew maize, wheat or rice, the monkeys would eat them up or destroy them.

That is when scientists from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicines (CSIR-IIM), Jammu and Lucknow, offered to help.

They suggested to the disappointed farmers to grow lemongrass instead of traditional maize, wheat and rice crops as the aromatic grass is not harmed or eaten by the primates. Moreover, its oil is extensively used in aromatherapy and medical practitioners also recommend the oil for reducing inflammation, easing indigestion, curing headaches, combating fungal and bacterial infections, and relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Brat was the first farmer to take up the suggestion and grow lemongrass initially over 8 kanals of land (1 kanal = 0.125 acres).

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