Dipti Tiru, pursuing her graduation from Birsa College in Khunti in Jharkhand, had the biggest surprise of her life. Her five-acre barren land, which had remained idle for decades, fetched Rs 30,000 this year after she planted lemongrass on it.
Her exuberance is largely due to the Khunti district administration that is promoting lemongrass cultivation to check the rampant growth of opium plantation in the region.
For this purpose, the district administration has tied up with a local NGO and the Jharkhand State Livelihood Society (JSLPS). As a result, many opium growers have shifted to the new plant in Khunti, the worst affected area by Left wing extremism in Jharkhand.
Dipti says the state government under the JOHAR Project provided Rs 4,000 to the grower, which one can return as per one’s convenience.
“The best part is that lemongrass cultivation gives as much returns as poppy,” she said. Lemongrass yields a profit of almost Rs 90,000 per annum per acre land as the market demand is high, said Khunti Deputy Commissioner Shashi Ranjan.
“We are also trying to make secondary products such as phenyl and room fresheners from lemongrass, which will be made available in the market soon. These products will be attached to Palash Mart to ensure a regular market,” said Ranjan.
Khunti Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Shekhar says the police have been successful in convincing the people to shift to new cultivation.