Smallholder farmers in the Baramulla, Bandipora and Pulwama districts of Kashmir are facing increasingly undependable weather and degraded soils. As a result, farmers are incurring substantial debts from repeated crop failures. Many have been forced to sell their land. But a local farmers’ cooperative (Jammu and Kashmir Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Growers’ Cooperative) has demonstrated that there is another viable option. Farmers can switch from maize to perennial plants such as lavender, which thrives in poor soils and under harsh climates. As a hardy perennial, it has a 20-year lifespan, stands up to unpredictable weather, needs minimal input and is almost pest-free. The profits are as much as USD 4,000 per hectare per year. The cooperative was formed in 2009 and grew from 30 to 300 members by 2011, with collective harvests steadily rising. The cooperative provides a central hub for smallholder members to access market or even export their products. The cooperative has also used a federal grant to set up a USD 500,000 aromatic oil distillation plant and now markets the essential oil of lavender in India and the United Kingdom under the brand name Pure Aroma.
Relationship to CSA
The risk of low crop yields, or of total crop failure, due to drought has been eliminated through substituting the annual crop of maize with lavender, a hardy perennial. Productivity (in terms of USD/ha) has been greatly increased. Perennial crops, with a life span of 20 years, can contribute to climate change mitigation by greater carbon sequestration below ground in their roots than annual crops such as maize, but this has yet to be quantified in this case study.
Impact and lessons learned
Entrepreneurial leadership, coupled with collective action through a local cooperative, has created an enterprise that has enabled a growing number of poor farmers to escape poverty and debt. Strong government support through a federal grant has further enabled the cooperative to offer planting material and training to new farmers and, importantly, to successfully link them with international markets. The cooperative model offers opportunities that smallholder farmers could not attain alone—from bulk selling and exporting to processing, branding and marketing a value-added product.
CCAFS Big Facts - Switching to climate-resilient aromatic crops in India: https://ccafs.cgiar.org/bigfacts/#theme=evidence-of-success&subtheme=crops&casestudy=cropsCs1
FAO. 2013a. Climate-Smart Agriculture: Sourcebook. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3325e.pdf Between now and 2050, the world’s population will increase by one-third. Most of these additional 2 billion people will live in developing countries. At the same time, more people will be living in cities. If current income and consumption growth trends continue, FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demands for food and feed. Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction. Climate change will make this task more difficult under a business-as-usual scenario, due to adverse impacts on agriculture, requiring spiralling adaptation and related costs.