Camomile cultivation for livelihoods promotion
August 2009; The Sundevi User committee, comprising of 49 members in Suklaphanata Wildlife Reserve, Jhalari village of Kanchanpur district has been cultivating Camomile (Matricaria chamomilla)' a herbal plant to extract oil. The herbs are being distilled into valuable essential oils under the supervision of Biosys-Nepal Ltd to ensure that the oil quality meets the high standards needed for selling as organically grown oil in the European market.
UNDP Western Terai Landscape Complex Project (WTLCP) has played a crucial role in supporting the formation of the user groups, coordinating with the authorities and providing saplings, seeds and a water pump. The prospects are very promising for the biodiversity of the area and local incomes.
Camomile is a 60-90 cms tall aromatic winter and summer season crop. Oil extracted from camomile is used in many ways; it is used for anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and sedative purposes. The oil is also used for flavour and fragrance in food, perfume, shampoos and soaps.
The community has planted Camomile in 25 hectares of land. In 2009, 26.62 litres of essential oil was produced of which the current market value is Rs 5, 45,628. The data indicates that on an average, one member has earned Rs 11,135.
Each year, Jhalari village suffers from heavy loss of agricultural crops, sometimes human casualties and injuries and livestock depredation due to wild animals. Since camomile is non-palatable to wild animals, it has multiple benefits. Inter cropping of camomile with maize and potato can also be done.
Mr. Pratap Dhami, chairperson of Sundevi User Committee says, 'camomile promotion is a viable option to minimize wildlife depredation and improve the livelihoods of poor farmers.'
Ms. Chandani Sawad, resident of Jhalari-6, Kanchanpur says, 'our life took a new turn when WTLCP provided us with training and the seed money along with the oil processing plant . Now we have cash in our hands. We feel empowered. '