Purple revolution in agriculture

Dr. Varsha Gayatonde and Dr. Prudhvi Raj Vennela 1. KSDA, Karnataka, 2. TSSOCA, Hyderabad, Telangana

2021-03-17 16:42:15

Credit: pixabay.com

Credit: pixabay.com

The story of purple revolution in agriculture begins by giving-up the age-old traditional farming of maize crops, 200 progressive farmers residing in the vast hilly slopes of Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district which have successfully embraced aromatic lavender cultivation that is comparatively more profitable, thereby, starting a “purple revolution” in the district. It is one of the path of fulfilling Prime Minister’s dream of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.

The aim is to increase the income of small and marginal farmers with primary focus of research on drug discovery from natural products, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) initiated Aroma Mission to popularize the aromatic crops and provide end-to-end technology and value-addition solutions to farmers across the country. There are about 16 revolutions reported till date (enlisted in table 1) and the purple revolution is reported to be a 17th move towards “Atmanirbhar bharat”

Table:1 Different revolutions in India. 



Father of the Revolution

Integration of ecological principles in technology development

Evergreen Revolution

M S Swaminathan

Higher Production (Technology-driven 2nd Green revolution)

Protein Revolution

Coined by Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitely

Oilseed Production (Especially Mustard and Sunflower)

Yellow Revolution 

Sam Pitroda

Petroleum products

Black Revolution

Fish Production

Blue Revolution 

Dr Arun Krishnan

Leather / Cocoa / Non-Conventional Products

Brown Revolution

Jute Production

Golden Fiber Revolution

Fruits / Honey Production / Horticulture Development

Golden Revolution 

Nirpakh Tutej


Grey Revolution

Onion Production / Pharmaceuticals / Prawn Production

Pink Revolution

Durgesh Patel

Egg Production / Poultry Production

Silver Revolution 

Indira Gandhi (Mother of the Revolution)


Silver Fiber Revolution

Meat Production / Tomato Production

Red Revolution

Vishal Tewari


Round Revolution

Food Grains

Green Revolution 

M.S. Swaminathan 

Milk Production

White Revolution

Verghese Kurien

Tomato, onion and potato

Operation greens


in the 2018-2019 union budget with the aim to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion, and Potato -TOP crops in the country. 

The passion for lavender cultivation began in 2010 when the Jammu and Kashmir state tourism department  introduced it for beautification. But this inspired only few farmers. Then, in 2016, the Centre launched Aroma Mission to boost cultivation of plants like lavender which have aromatic medicinal properties. Total 500 farmers shifted to this particular crop cultivation. 

Till March 2020 under CSIR-Aroma Mission, quality planting material (QPM) of eight lakh rooted plants of lavender were provided free of cost to 500 farmers in the Jammu region for 100 acres of land.   Besides giving them technical support, free essential oil distillation facilities were provided to the farmers of Bhadarwah and through CSIR- Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) interventions, they have produced more than 800 litres of lavender oil worth Rs 80 lakh from 2018 to 2020. After the Ministry of Science and Technology’s initiative which has started paying rich dividends to small farmers, the local entrepreneurs have also started encouraging lavender producers by providing them the required infrastructure at their doorsteps to extract oil and the appropriate market to sell it. IIIM-CSIR decided to help the farmers based on their   economic, infrastructure, and conceptual needs. The institute has installed five distillation columns in different villages of Bhadarwah besides providing them access to sell their produce in the international market. 

Purple economy (Mission Aroma phase I)

Lavender oil sells for at least Rs 10,000 per litre, according to scientists from CSIR and IIIM Jammu, the two bodies responsible for taking the Aroma Mission forward. Under the mission, which was launched to move from imported aromatic oils to homegrown varieties, first-time farmers were given free lavender saplings and those who have cultivated lavender before were charged Rs 5-6 per sapling (Ref: Down to earth Feb, 2021). The farmers get help from IIIM-Jammu to sell their produce. Mumbai-based companies like Ajmal Biotech provate limited, Aditi International and Navnetri Gamika, which manufacture aromatic products like candles and aroma oils are their primary buyers. 

Aroma mission phase II

On February 9, 2021, CSIR-IIIM-Jammu announced Aroma Mission phase 2 after the success of the first phase. The inauguration was attended by farmers from Uttarakhand, Nagaland and Assam. Impressed by this success story, the Uttarakhand authorities invited some of them to train their farmers. The mission is to increase lavender cultivation to 1,500 hectares within three years to maintain the genetic purity of good lavender saplings, the farmers were skilled in vegetative propagation with the collaboration of state horticulture, floriculture departments and SKUAST.  At present, large-scale lavender cultivation is limited to J&K but governments in Himachal Pradesh, Arunahal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are also encouraging their farmers to take up lavender. 

Facts about lavender:

About the crop: The name “lavender” comes from the Latin verb lavare “to wash” or “to bathe.” There are approximately 20 species of lavender with hundreds of various genotypes differentiated by variations ranging from growth form to chemical composition of essential oil. A brief taxonomic description is given in Table 2. Hardy Lavenders; English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia, is the most widely cultivated species.  The majority of the oil extracted from the flowers is contained in the glands on the calyx. Flowering is generally from mid to late June to early July. 

Table 2: Plant description of lavender














Common cultivated spp.

Lavandulaspica, L. latifolia

L.angustifolia, L. intermediaL. stoeches

Economic Parts


Pollination System


Plant Habit


Plant height

40 cm upto 1 metre


Mountainous regions Mediterranean region of Europe

Adapted in india

low rainfall regions and on the slopes of hills of J and K,  HimachalPradesh(HP) and Uttar Pradesh(UP)


Historical perspectives:  Lavender was a favorite ingredient in herbal baths of both Greeks and Romans. During the middle ages it was considered an herb of love and was used as an aphrodisiac. It was also believed that a sprinkle of lavender water on the head of a loved one would keep the wearer chaste. Due to its insecticidal properties, lavender was strewn over floors in castles and sickrooms as a disinfectant and deodorant. Lavender was used as an ingredient in smelling salts and was used to disinfect wounds during wartime. Other historical uses include embalming corpses, curing animals of lice, taming lions and tigers, repelling mosquitoes, snuff flavoring, and as an ingredient in special lacquers and varnishes. Culinary uses include flavoring vinegars, jellies, and salads. Medicinal uses include treatment of headache, hysteria, nervous palpitations, hoarseness, palsy, toothaches, sore joints, apoplexy, colic, coughs, and rumbling digestive systems.

Phytochemistry:  oil contains up to 40% linalyl acetate and 30% linalol. Linalol is a terpene alcohol that is non-toxic to humans, yet naturally antimicrobial. Linalyl acetate, its acetic ester, has a pleasant, sweet, fruity, aroma which along with its antimicrobial properties makes lavender unique. Other constituents of the oil are cineol, pinene, limonene, geraniol, borneol and some tannin. Lavender oil is soluble in all proportions of alcohol. There are two esters in the oil which are the primary source for the odor of lavender. Of these the principal is linalyl acetate and the second in linalyl butyrate. Various cultural practices can affect the ester value of Lavender oil. These include choice of cultivar, use of soil amendments, how and when flowers are gathered (optimal when flowers are fully expanded), how quickly the harvest is distilled, and how it is distilled (steam distillation is better than water).

What are essential oils? Essential oils: obtained through mechanical pressing or distillation, are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor of their source. As an example, about 100 kg of lavender flowers are needed to produce 500g of lavender oil. Each essential oil has a unique composition of chemicals, and this variation affects the smell, absorption, and effects on the body. The chemical composition of an essential oil may vary within the same plant species, or from plant to plant. Synthetic oils are not considered true essential oils.