Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) & Citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus Jowitt.) are the two aromatic plants that grows wild in the hills and foothills of Manipur. These two aromatic grasses grow in wide varieties of soils ranging from sandy loam to poor laterite. Promoting large scale cultivation of these aromatic plants along with Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) and Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) which grows well in the foothills and valley areas of Manipur for extraction of essential oils could be a good idea for investment. The spent material (grass after distillation) can be further used for mulching and composting which is an additional income for the farmers. These aromatic plants being of short gestation period it could be a sustenance crop for the farmers if the required technical support and infrastructures for distillation and marketing support could be provided. The demand of the essential oil for formulation of various products viz. Perfumery, for various grades of soaps and cosmetics, aromatherapy etc.
Sugandhmantri (Homalomena aromatica Schott): A rhizomatous aromatic perennial herb belonging to the family Araceae, is an ignored but high valued plant bioresources found to have grown wild in Manipur. There is extensive wild growth of this aromatic herb in the Jiribam Subdivision, south-eastern part of Tamenglong district and north-western part of Churachandpur district of the Manipur. The plant is shade loving with short, stout and tough stem, slow growing with an average height to 0.40-0.80 m, heart-shaped dark green cordate-sagittate shaped coraceous leaves with long petiole. Its aromatic rhizomes contain an essential oil used for blending most of the oriental perfumes. On steam distillation the rhizome yields a yellow coloured essential oil from 2.0 to 2.8% on dry weight basis and the residue is used in incense making. The medicinal properties of Sugandhmantri are widely described. In Traditional Chinese medicine, the plant has bitter, pungent and warm properties which are associated with the liver and kidney meridians strengthen tendons and bones and used to treat pain and weakness in lower back and knees along with numbness in the lower extremities. Rhizomes attaining 15 cm long are chosen for harvesting. Average fresh yield of rhizome is about 20,000 kg/ha. On drying it yields about 4,000 kg dry rhizomes, @Rs 35-45 per kg of rhizome on dry weight basis which on steam distillation may yield 96 kg of essential oil (at 2.4% recovery. Considering the cost of oil @ Rs 4500 per kg, the total income generated is Rs 4,32,000 per hectare in the third year of cultivation and similar income is expected for every 2 alternate years till 7-9 years. When required cultivation technologies along with infrastructures for processing of the Rhizomes are provided this rich plant bioresources can be converted into wealth of the state.
Read more:Wild growth of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants.