Aug , 2022, Volume : 3 Article : 3
Developing an improved variety of Lemon Grass ‘Hunar’: A Success Story of Gurpreet Singh
Author : Akanchha Singh
Gurpreet Singh, a science graduate, who eventually left his job in 1999 and entered into practicing agriculture at his ancestral farms, ultimately bred a new innovative variety of lemon grass ‘Hunar’ The journey did not end here rather he started processing of lemon grass, applied his knowledge of marketing and made viable and sustainable marketing channels and managed to export lemon grass oil outside India. Lemon grass is cultivated along Western Ghats (Maharashtra, Kerala), Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states besides foot-hills of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. At present, India grows this crop in 3,000 ha area, largely in states of Kerala, Karnataka, U.P and Assam and the annual production ranges between 300-350 t/annum. Journey of Gurpreet Singh is an inspiration for many to dream what you desire.
Lemon grass is cultivated along Western Ghats (Maharashtra, Kerala), Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states besides foot-hills of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. At present, India grows this crop in 3,000 ha area, largely in states of Kerala, Karnataka, U.P. and Assam and the annual production ranges between 300-350 t/annum. Gurpreet Singh tried the cultivation of lemon grass in Rudrapur after analyzing the fact that climate of Tarai region is suitable for leaf crops He is a farmer who has successfully augmented his agricultural income by prudent crop diversification, followed by value-addition endeavors and above all, strategic marketing. He left a decent job to take up agriculture in 1999 on his ancestral farm(s). It is a saga that spans over a quarter of a century starting with a series of failures and eventually leading to a well deserved success. Innovation isn’t easy. And so it was, for Gurpreet Singh ji too. It is his effort, determination, intelligence, dedication and innovative approach that led to development of “Hunar” variety of lemon grass.
2. Profile of innovator
Gurpreet Singh is a farmer who lives in Rudrapur. He is 54 years old. He has three farms (parcels of land), one, at Village Bakhpur, Uttarakhand, second, at Village Bijli and third at Village Inderpur in Tehsil Bilaspur UP. He did B. Sc (Hons.) in Chemistry from St. Stephens College of Delhi University. He worked in Goodricke Tea Company up to 1999 and thereafter he decided to move towards farming and left his job. The reason for moving towards farming is to do something independently and to earn more and more income.
3. Process of development of Hunar Variety
Gurpreet Singh worked on aromatics because he wanted to apply his knowledge of chemistry in field situations. Initially he focused and worked on ginger, turmeric and marigold, where he failed miserably. He then realized that Tarai region have high moisture conditions that are not suitable for seed crops so he switched over to leaf crops and thereafter he chosen lemon grass (Cymbopogone) as his main crop.
He wanted to gain good yield, quality as well as price so studied market as well. He brought planting materials from different institutes, as well as many wild collections from forests of India and abroad (Bhutan and Bangladesh). He made 50 trial plots of planting materials he had collected from different locations in India and abroad. Each plot was monitored for herb yield, for oil recovery and eachoil sample was tested by GC (Gas chromatography to know the chemical constituents of oils.
He continued this process from 1999 to 2004. He then selected two varieties through selection process on the basis of parameters of yield, quality as well as disease and pest resistant and rejected other planting materials. He said all the three processes are essential for getting success which includes development of variety, distillation and marketing of product.
4. Cultivation Practices of Lemon Grass Hunar
Cymbopogon citratus are not cultivated in Indian scenario. This is a wild selection from Bhutan.The planting is done using the ‘sets’ separated from the clumps. The spacing adopted is 25 cm between the rows and 10-15 cm between plants. Sufficient irrigation is required, one or two irrigations at a time. But before 8-10 days of harvest irrigation is stopped to dry the field. After every harvest, well composted cow-dung along with spent lemon grass ash obtained from burning of spent lemongrass as fuel for extraction of oil is applied. The oil of this variety is exported to other countries especially European countries and now Gurpreet Singh is keen to sell this oil in USA market, using platforms like Amazon, eBay etc.
5. Special Attributes of Hunar Variety of Lemon Grass
The main differences between Singh`s varieties and the others being grown in India are that, these have a fresh lime, citral-type rosy note, as against a metallic note in other varieties. The most peculiar characteristics of this variety is that this is disease resistance variety and yields about 0.7 to 1.1 per cent oil, fresh weight basis, as against the recovery of 0.3 to 0.5 per cent of all Indian varieties.
He was awarded the Srishti Samman 2006 by Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad for his innovation. He totally believes in interacting with nature and emphasized over the fact that before cultivating anything one must learn to study the natural changes occurs in field and after understanding all the dynamics one should start the process.
Gurpreet Singh is a farmer who has proved that farming is not confined to production only rather marketing should get the front stage. Even after failing in his earlier efforts of cultivating ginger and turmeric, he continued doing hard work and practiced cultivation of lemon grass. He further developed the variety and his marketing intelligence made him successful in exporting his own developed lemon grass oil in other countries. His vision of cultivating according to market needs has not only provided him the desired success rather also motivated him to try his skills in other crops. He is an inspiration for many other farmers who want to try something new in farming but feel hesitant regarding the uncertainty associated with the farming. Gurpreet Singh’s calculated risk-taking ability and intelligence in predicting the demand of market has opened the door of success for him. His hard work and consistency are the key qualities that other should learn from his journey.
National Horticulture Board. Lemon Grass. Retrieved fromhttp://nhb.gov.in/model-project-reports/Horticulture%20Crops/Lemongrass/Lemongrass1.htm on 19.7.2022.
Dr. Akanchha Singh is working as Assistant Professor, College of Agriculture Sciences, Teerthanker Mahaveer University, Moradabad. She was an e-Content Developer (IDP-NAHEP), Pantnagar, from March 22, 2021 to September 21, 2021. Her major area of research are Farmers’ Innovations and Entrepreneurship.
Shaik. Ameer Sohail
Nice and easy to understand ☺️