Purple revolution: India’s farmers turn to lavender to beat drought

Purple revolution: India’s farmers turn to lavender to beat drought

Faced with climate change, farmers in Jammu and Kashmir are switching from maize to essential oils

It’s late June and the field is glowing with fragrant purple as the women in their flowing shalwar kameez arrive with scythes to harvest the lavender. In the 30-odd villages on the hilly slopes of Jammu’s Doda district, more than 200 farmers have shifted from maize to lavender production, starting a “purple revolution” in the region.

The village of Lehrote had a moment of agricultural fame this year when a 43-year-old farmer, Bharat Bhushan, won a prestigious award for innovative farming from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, one of several institutions across the country looking to find ways of coping with the climate crisis and its devastating impact on farming. Lavender, a drought-resistant crop, can be grown on poor soil and likes lots of sun but needs little water.

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