Introduction To Lemongrass Farming Project Report
If you are searching for a Cost and Profit analysis of Lemongrass cultivation or Lemongrass Farming Project Report, you are at right place.
Lemongrass, originally known as Cymbopogon is a tropical island plant belonging to the grass family. These are used as medicinal herbs or for culinary purpose because of their scent resembling that of lemon. The other common names of Lemongrass are barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, gavati chahapati. This plant is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics. This grass is considered to be a native of Sri Lanka and South India, but it is also grown widely in the tropical regions of America and Asia. In India it is cultivated in states like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, some southern parts of India, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. India is the largest producer of Lemongrass in the world and 80% of the produce is exported to other countries like Japan, West Europe, USA etc. There are two major cultivable varieties of Lemongrass; they are East Indian Lemongrass and West Indian Lemongrass. The East Indian Lemongrass is also called as Cochin or Malabar grass and is mostly found in India and Sri Lanka. West Indian Lemongrass is native to South India, Ceylon, Indonesia and Malaysia.
In India Lemongrass cultivators face problems with the growth and characteristics of different cultivars, but even then Lemongrass proves to be a profitable business for farmers because of the yield and income structure.
Lemongrass finds use in cosmetics, pharmaceutical and therapeutic treatments, food flavoring perfume industry etc.
This Lemongrass farming project report describes the methods of farming Lemongrass and the end of the report one can find the details of the investment required for farming Lemongrass and the profit associated with it.
Lemongrass Plant and its properties
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus) is considered as a fast-growing perennial grass which smells like lemon. It is generally tall and reaches a height of around 1.5 m. The foliage of the grass is dark green in colour and produces seeds. Similarly, the Cymbopogon citratus is also considered a fast-growing variety reaching a height of 1 m. The leaves of the grass are bluish-green in colour. This variety doesn’t produce seeds.
Both these varieties produce bulbous stems that have a large clump diameter at maturity. The essential parts of the plant are the stalks and leaves because oil is extracted from these parts through steam distillation.
The oil contains a high percentage of terpenes, menthyl heptenone, linalool, geranyl, acetone, nerol and geraniol after the extraction of citral.
Varieties or cultivars of Lemongrass
There are many developed cultivars of Lemongrass and some of them that are grown in India are described below.
Sugandhi (OD 19)
- Can adapt to a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.
- The stem is red in color.
- Height of the plant is around 1 to 1.75 m.
- In 1 hectare of land, cultivating this variety, produces 80 to 100 kg of oil
- This is a tall growing variety found in the north Indian plains.
- The plant contains 0.63% of oil content with 75 to 82% citral content.
- Belong to the C pendulus species and has evolved through cloning.
- The grass is medium sized with erect structure and profuse tillering.
- High oil yield with 82% citral content.
- 1 hectare of land can yield 35 tonnes of herb containing 0.4% oil content.
- The grass produces 4 or 5 harvests in 16 to 18 months with 300 kg of oil.
- The total yield of this variety per hectare is around 15 to 20 tonnes, producing 100 to 110 kg of oil.
- There is 0.6 to 0.8% oil content and 80% citral content in the plants.
- It is a cross between C. khasianum and C. pendulus.
- 60 tonnes of herb are produced in 1 hectare of land under proper irrigation conditions.
Some other varieties found in India are OD-48, Krishna, Pragati, Cauvery, OD-19, SD-68 etc. All these varieties differ based on their oil and citral content. Some of them have colour variation in their foliage otherwise the rest of the attributes of these varieties are almost similar.
Soil and climate requirements of Lemongrass farming
Lemongrass is known to grow in any type of soil, but performs best on sandy or clay loam soils with a pH range of around 5 to 8. It is observed that lower altitude and alkaline soil facilitate higher citral content of the oil. The variety with high citrates is in great demand. The dry loamy soil produces grass with high citral content. Places having the poor soil condition, high alkalinity, hilly areas, degraded forests, mined and industrial wastelands can all be considered as an option for farming Lemongrass.
The plant prefers tropical and subtropical climate for proper growth. The optimum temperature range should be around 10 to 33˚C. The plant needs bright sunlight for the development of oil content. Frost and cold weather are not suitable for cultivating Lemongrass.
The minimum annual rainfall required for farming Lemongrass is around 700 to 3000 mm. Areas having less rainfall can provide supplemental irrigation during Lemongrass production.
Propagation techniques of Lemongrass
Growing Lemongrass plants through slips obtained from the division of well grown clumps is considered as the best method because such plants tend to yield high quality oil. The clumps should be removed by 20 to 25 cm of the root. The brown sheath is removed to expose the roots and clumps are divided into slips.
Another way of propagating Lemongrass is through seeds obtained from the plants. Immediately after the flowering of the crop, seeds are produced and they start maturing within the next two or three months. The entire inflorescence is cut for seed collection. This is allowed to dry in the sun for 2 or 3 days. Upon drying the seeds are removed by threshing the dried inflorescence. The seeds are again dried under the sun and before sowing the fluffy mass around the seed is removed. It should be noted that seeds stored beyond one year lose their vitality; hence they should be used immediately. It is estimated that one hectare of land will need approximately around 4 to 5 kgs of seeds. Raising the seeds in the nursery is a superior way to obtain the seedlings rather that sowing them directly on the soil beds in the main area. Raised beds of dimension 1 x 5 m are prepared and the seeds are sown manually before the onset of monsoon. The germination of the seeds starts within 5 to 6 days and are ready to be transplanted within a period of 60 days from sowing.
Land preparation and planting for Lemongrass cultivation
The soil of the land should be analyzed before preparing it for planting Lemongrass. All the underground vegetation is cleared and pits of dimensions 5 cm cube are dug with a spacing of 15 x 10 cm. The orientation of the field should be such that the plants receive maximum sunshine and the rows should possibly be oriented towards east-west direction. The spacing between rows should be 20 cm and the width of the rows should be around 40 cm. The advisable density of planting in low rainfall areas is around 60,000 plants per hectare. Slips can be planted anytime during the year, but soil should be in good condition. Planting of slips or seedling should be avoided during the hot summer season and winter because the plants are usually dormant during these periods. After planting to a suitable depth, soil around the seedlings or slips should be pressed firmly to remove trapped air pockets.
Manure and fertilizer requirements for Lemongrass crop
The need for potassium is high in these plants when compared to phosphate fertilizer. In some locations the requirement of potassium is higher than nitrogen so as to produce greater oil content. It is estimated that 50 to 120 kg of fertilizers per hectare are needed to produce good results from the farm. The NPK fertilizer @ 90 kg is supplied in the ratio 1: 1: 1 at the time of planting as a basal dose. Extra 60 to 90 kgs of nitrogen is applied as a topdressing in 3 split doses during growing season.
Nitrogen has little effect on the oil content and composition, but has an influence on the citral content for some cultivars. Nitrogen supplied to the plants encourages vegetal growth.
Compost after distillation is mixed with wood ash can also be beneficial for the plants. Application of kraal manure to the farm shows positive response from the Lemongrass plants. 10 tonnes of farmyard manure can be applied to the soil during land preparation.
If there is a deficiency of zinc in the soil, then 25 to 60 kg of zinc sulphate per hectare of land can be applied. After each harvest, micronutrients and growth regulators can be sprayed to keep the plants healthy.
Water requirement for Lemongrass
The minimum rainfall requirement for growing Lemongrass plants is estimated to be around 600 mm. If this quantity is available to the farms, then no supplemental irrigation is required. Drought tolerant varieties need less water supply that the other varieties. Irrigation can be provided either by overhead, flood or drip irrigation systems. For plants that suffer from problems with rust, overhead irrigation should be avoided.
In areas with less rainfall, irrigation should be supplied to the plants at an interval of 3 days during the first month of planting; but subsequently as the plants grow, irrigation should be provided at an interval of 7 to 10 days. Irrigation cycle should always be adjusted according to the water holding capacity of the soil and weather conditions of the region.
Intercultural practices of Lemongrass crop
Weed control is highly important while cultivating Lemongrass because the weeds tend to compete with the Lemongrass plants for water and other nutrients. Weeds are extremely dangerous as they tend to lower the oil content and quality of the produce. Either hand-weeding or hoeing are practiced to remove weeds from the farm. The waste obtained from this plant is distilled and applied back to the crop as organic mulch to control the weeds. One hectare of land needs 3000 kgs of mulch organic approximately. Controlling sunlight exposure of the farm can be a best weeding practice and therefore Lemongrass plants are planted to form a canopy quickly. Some other weed control measures can be:
- Weeds should not be allowed to seed in the farm land.
- Plant canopy or shade can control weeds.
- Mechanical methods can be used to remove weeds.
- Organic control methods like flame weeding and UV radiation can be used depending on the strength of the cultivar.
Pest and disease control measures of Lemongrass
Common pests that attack Lemongrass plants are stem boring caterpillar and nematodes. These can be controlled by burning the dry stubble during off-season in summer, removing the affected shoots and by spraying suitable pest control chemicals if the problem is severe. Soil borne pests can be controlled by soil solarisation and mulching.
The occurrence of disease should be prevented and therefore windbreaks and rain shelters can be used to prevent and manage diseases. The common diseases found in Lemongrass plants are long smut, red leaf spot, leaf blight, rust, etc. If the symptoms of diseases are severe, then spraying chemical fungicides is recommended.
Harvesting and yield of Lemongrass crop
The harvest from Lemongrass plants is obtained after 6 to 9 months of planting. Actively growing plants can be harvested one every month because frequent cutting can increase growth in the plants. Too tall grass has lower oil yield and so plants are not allowed to grow beyond a certain height. Harvesting the grass in the morning is preferred so that the evaporation of dew is possible without color loss. Harvesting can be done either mechanically or manually. Grass is cut 10 to 15 cm from the ground level, otherwise there could be a delay in regrowth. Upper parts of the plant contain most oil content. Lower leaves have less oil content, so cutting the plants too low is not recommended.
Three harvests are possible for the first year of planting and in the subsequent years 5 to 10 harvests can be expected. The harvest obtained each year depends greatly on the soil moisture level, management practices and weather of the region. Harvesting just during the winter season is helpful because root reserves are build up easily facilitating faster regrowth. Care should be taken such that the plant is not allowed to flower profusely as this will reduce the overall oil yield. It is estimated that the Lemongrass planted in one hectare of land produces 250-300 kgs of oil depending on the density of planting and the supply of water and nutrients.
Post harvest management
There is a possibility of selling the dried Lemongrass as tea or in blends. It is important to check that the dried grass is green colour and is free from mould. The process of drying should be quick otherwise the grass may lose its quality, colour and aroma. Conventional dryer can be used for drying the leaves without any loss. The entire oil recovery process takes approximately 4 hours.
The harvested leaves can be stored under the shade for 3 days without any change in quality or can be distilled immediately when fresh. If the leaves are allowed to wilt then it is observed that the moisture content is reduced and the process of drying gets easier and consumes less fuel. During distillation, water and Lemongrass oil vapours are mixed and passed through a condenser. The distillate is collected into a separator, where the oil floats on the top and is drawn off continuously. The collected oil is filtered manually or by the use of chemicals.
The oil is graded based on the amount of citral content. This citral is a terpene aldehyde used in the manufacture of vitamin A. The colour of the oil is yellow and is viscous in nature. It has a strong fresh smell of grass, lemon tea and herb.
The oil is volatile in nature, so it should be handled with care and packed firmly to avoid formation of steam channels.
The oil obtained from Lemongrass should be stored in a dark, airtight glass container so that it is not exposed to heat or heavy metals. To improve the shelf life of the oil it should be refrigerated and tightly capped. The oil being acidic in nature can destroy rubber and plastic within no time.
Cost and profit analysis of Lemongrass / Lemongrass Farming Project Report
You can find the economics of lemongrass cultivation here.
The cost of Lemongrass cultivation in one hectare of land is estimated here. The project doesn’t discuss about the details of land, transport and other miscellaneous charges involved during the process of cultivation. Only the investment for important materials and labour required during cultivation are mentioned here for reference. During the practical deployment of the project all the above mentioned categories have to be considered after a thorough market research. It should be noted that once Lemongrass is planted it can produce up to 4 years.
Assumptions of Lemongrass farming project report:
Cost of Lemongrass planting material: Rs 5 per slip (average price range is Rs 0.5 to 5).
Cost of labour per day: Rs 300.
No. of grass slips per hectare: 50,000 (depending on the planting structure, it may vary in between 35000-50000).
Fixed costs during farming
|Investment in Rs
|Construction of a distillation shed with dimensions 25 x 16 x 15 ft @ Rs 588 per cubic metre
|Water tank of 14 ft high with a capacity of 2000 litres and pump set
|Distillation unit (hydro-steam and lifting type of capacity 1 MT)
Variable costs during the production and oil extraction
|Material and labour
|Investment in Rs
|Cost of labour for land preparation
|Cost for planting
|Application of fertilizers and manures
|Weed control and other intercultural practices
|Application of plant protection chemicals
|Cost of planting material
|Cost of manure and fertilizers
|Cost of plant protection chemicals
|Labour charges for harvesting @ 3 times a year
|Cost of distillation
Total oil produced from 1 hectare of Lemongrass farming in one year: 480 kgs.
The average sale price of Lemongrass oil per kg: Rs 1200.
Income from the farm: Rs 5, 76,000.
Profit obtained from the farm: Rs 1, 41,000.
Loans and subsidies for Lemongrass farming
Horticulture Board has schemes for aromatic and Ayurvedic crops and the amount of subsidy is different for each state. It was known that the government provides a maximum subsidy of Rs 2000 per acre for cultivating Lemongrass along with another 50% subsidy for installing distillation unit. These subsidy values could possibly change, so a prior check with the Horticulture Board of the particular area can be useful.
NABARD is also providing assistance to farmers in the form of loans. The exact details could be obtained on the NABARD website.
Read: Growing Pearl Millet (Bajra).