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CSIR, in its efforts to improve the socioeconomic status of people in the country who are at the bottom of the pyramid of life, is focusing to bring S&T interventions in the areas of health, agriculture, and energy, resulting in equitable and inclusive growth. One such classic example of the proper utilization of a CSIR technology for the economic empowerment of rural India is the cultivation of superior varieties of mint, commonly called Pudina.
Menthol mint (Mentha arvensis) cultivated in the Indo-Gangetic plains of North India is today a major industrial crop, thanks to CSIR for providing farmers with high oil-yielding superior varieties of the mint plant. Some of the prominent varieties of mint developed by CSIR include: Sambhav, Ganga, Damroo, Neerkalka, CIM-Indus, CIM-Patra, Anant Carvomint, and CIM-Madhuras.
Neerkalka is a hybrid mint plant developed by CSIR scientists by employing sexual crossing between Mentha arvensis and Mentha spicat. It has high oil yield and shows combined characteristics typical of both parent plants. The per capita productivity of a superior variety ‘Kosi ‘, again developed by CSIR scientists, has enabled farmers to take this crop as a bonus between Rabi and Kharif.
Another CSIR developed variety of mentha, CIM-Indus contains Menthofuran, one of the major aromatic constituents of the essential oil extracted from the leaves of Mentha piperita. Another high menthofuran containing mint genotype is CIM-Patra, which is an ideal candidate for commercial utilization. Yet another CSIR developed variety of sweet smelling Peppermint (Mentha piperita) christened CIM-Madhuras produces characteristic essential oil having medicinal, therapeutic and beverage properties.
India today dominates the world market contributing about 80% (30,000 tons) of menthol mint in various forms – Menthol crystals and powder, demontholised mint oil, and arvensis oil. Mint cultivation occupies 300,000 hectares across the country. Over 90 per cent of the mint cultivated area is covered by CSIR developed varieties. Continuous development and deployment of improved high-oil yielding, short duration, location-specific varieties and related agro-technologies is a part of CSIR success stories in promoting Mint cultivation. Further value-addition has taken place through improved distillation process and products. Most importantly, CSIR, with its mint production enhancement technologies has generated employment to the extent of 648 lakh man days in the farms and 162 lakh man days in the industry.
Not just that. India has now attained the distinction of being the largest exporter of menthol mint and its oil. Touching the lives of rural masses through S&T interventions, the story of cultivating superior varieties of mint by Indian farmers unquestionably proves that CSIR is all set to transform rural India by bringing equitable and inclusive growth, which is reflected in enhancing the socio-economic status of the rural populace.