Kochi: The Union government’s trade promotion body, Spices Board, plans to set up an exclusive mint park in Uttar Pradesh with a focus on value-addition, according to Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for commerce.
Ramesh said that the park would come up on a 100-acre plot to be identified in the next 45 days. The park will be developed with the help of some private investors. He said that of the total spice exports of Rs3,400 crore during 2006-07, mint and mint products worth Rs1,100 crore were shipped out accounting for 30% of the export value—the highest by a single spice.
Although India controls 90% of the mint oil market with the US, China and Germany, only about 15% of the exports are value-added. It is important that India looked at the growing pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, culinary and chemical industries using mint.
Nearly 80% of the mint cultivation is in Uttar Pradesh that is becoming popular in Bihar and Haryana. Around 200,000 farmers are now engaged in mint farming in around 150,000ha.
The mint cultivated in the country is mainly the variety called ‘Japanese mint’, which is used for oil extraction. However, the growers must now look at other varieties such as spearmint and peppermint, Ramesh said.
The mint industry has been migratory in nature and was first concentrated in Japan, from where it moved to Brazil and then to China. Over the last decade, India has become the world leader in mint cultivation. Mint and mint product exports are almost on a par with tobacco, for whose promotion there is a separate Tobacco Board. There is a need to have a separate board for mint, which ideally should be headquartered in Lucknow, to give impetus to the growth of mint-based industries in UP and other northern states.
Spot electronic exchange platforms are also in the works at different centres along with warehouses, which are being set up in collaboration with the Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd, the national commodity exchange that has introduced futures trading in menthol.
Ramesh said futures trading had helped farmers get around Rs500 per kg for their produce, when it was Rs300 before the practice was initiated. However, he added that futures trading in menthol would be closely monitored to ensure that farmers are benefited.
J. Thomas Joseph, director of the Spices Board, said the board will collaborate with Lucknow-headquartered Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and the state government to establish testing facilities for ensuring the quality of mint and mint oil. It will also organize an international India mint marketing convention this time next year in Lucknow that would become an annual affair.