A wave of fragrance sweeps the air in the mighty Himalayas in India’s northern Uttarakhand province with the recent opening of a beautiful aromatic garden having 140 fragrant plant species.
According to forest officials, this biggest facility in the country set up in Lalkuan in Nanital district will help in conservation and popularising scented plants.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an Indian forest service officer, who heads the research wing of the Uttarakhand Forest Department said the 140 different aromatic species have been planted in the garden spread in an area of over three acres.
Conceptualised in 2018 for developing it as a nodal centre for demonstration, conservation, and propagation of aromatic plants on a national and international level, the project is being funded by the federal government.
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“After successfully establishing these species coming from different agroclimatic zones, in the next phase we are working on their propagation to develop a large number of plants of these species from their seeds/ rhizomes, which are coming out successfully in this aromatic garden,” said Chaturvedi.
According to the Directorate of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research, India is a global leader in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation, production of aromatic essential oils as some 8,000 such plants are found across the length and breadth of the country.
Elaborate research work was undertaken before the introduction of the plants in this garden, said the official.
He added that based on the nature of the species and the particular part giving rise to fragrance, this garden has been divided into nine sections.
“In this garden, aromatic species have been brought and established not only from different parts of the country but also from different agroclimatic zones,” said the officer.
He also said that there are very few dedicated aromatic gardens in the country.
“One such garden is reported to be established in Orissa (eastern province) in the year 2012 but it has only around 60-70 species and not so exhaustively categorised as this one,” he said.
Plan to conserve endemic species
On the economic prospect of this garden and scope for the aroma industry, Chaturvedi said the garden will not only provide raw material but will also extend consultancy for the establishment of such aromatic gardens.
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“A small processing unit, on an experiment basis has been set up in the campus itself which will be operational very soon, to process aromatic oils from these species on small scale,” he noted.
The department is now planning to conserve various endemic aromatic species particularly those that are vulnerable and neglected. “We plan to work extensively on such species including germplasm conservation, locating and preserving their natural areas,” he said.
Chaturvedi also states that they plan to popularise these species among common people in a big manner.
“For that purpose, we are going to raise a large number of aromatic plants particularly those aromatic herbs and shrubs which occupy less space and can be easily planted and kept in houses,” he said.
“Apart from that, we plan to train farmers and industry stakeholders on various aspects of these aromatic species and provide consultancy services.”