Meghalaya's Aroma Mission has emerged as a resounding success in the realm of aromatic plants, spearheaded by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Meghalaya. Since its launch in 2019, this flagship initiative has been instrumental in transforming aromatic plants into valuable products while promoting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, with the ultimate goal of doubling farmers' income and enhancing their livelihoods. During a visit to one of the Aroma Mission sites at Byrwa in the Ribhoi district. The Hon'ble Chief minister of Meghalaya Conrad K Sangma, accompanied by Shri Gunanka D.B. IFS Executive Director, INRM, Shri Arpith Upadhyay, DC Ribhoi district, and Ms. IsawandraLaloo, IAS, Secretary to the Department of Agriculture, expressed satisfaction with the remarkable progress achieved in aromatic plant cultivation and the production of valuable products, including essential oils and natural repellents.
The Aroma Mission operates thirteen essential oil distillation units in collaboration with women entrepreneurs. These units propagate various plants such as Citronella, Lemon Grass, Turmeric, Vetiver, Winter Green, Geranium, and more. Notably, these grasses thrive even in severely degraded lands where other crops struggle to grow. Moreover, their thick fibrous root system contributes to recharging groundwater and springs, and they are also proved to be an efficient soil binder and preventing soil erosion making them ecologically valuable.
Wholeheartedly supporting this initiative, the Hon'ble Chief Minister assured the farmers involved in aromatic plant cultivation of the government's unwavering assistance to scale up their enterprises. He encouraged them to share their future plans to ensure the long-term success of this business, benefiting both the farmers and the state economically. Furthermore, the Chief Minister emphasized the government's commitment to fostering collaboration among organizations to create more value-added products from aromatic plants.
To bolster the capabilities of the Byrwa unit, Hon'ble Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma announced additional financial aid from the government for the purchase of machinery. Furthermore, the cultivators are exploring the possibilities of extracting oil for perfume production, expanding their product range.
The Meghalaya Aroma Mission has played a pivotal role in promoting aromatic plant cultivation in the state and has achieved significant milestones. Over 3,000 farmers across the state, covering 500 hectares of waste land, have been supported through this mission. Ten essential aromatic plants, well-suited to the agro-climatic conditions in Meghalaya, have been cultivated, and the mission plans to expand the area under aromatic plantations to 1,000 hectares. Wintergreen, lavender, damask rose, and wild marigold, classified as High-Value Crops, have been given priority under the mission.
To ensure the production of value-added products like aromatic and essential oils, the Aroma Mission intends to establish more distillation facilities. The goal is to provide at least one field distillation unit for every 10 hectares of these crops.
The government of Meghalaya's vision for the Aroma Mission extends beyond cultivation to strengthen institutions and promote holistic development in the aromatic plant sector. As part of this effort, 130 Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed, empowering farmers and fostering collective efforts in the cultivation and marketing of aromatic plants. Additionally, cooperative societies have been established to facilitate collaboration and resource-sharing among farmers engaged in aromatic plant cultivation. Moreover, the creation of farmer groups has encouraged peer learning, knowledge sharing, and collective initiatives for sustainable agriculture.
The Aroma Mission has achieved a production output of 4 metric tons, significantly contributing to the state's aromatic plant industry. As a result of this initiative, 3,000 farmers have directly benefited, improving their livelihoods and income opportunities.