Upgrading Technology and Farming Methods Will Help India’s Mint Farmers: Mars
By Jan Lee
We use it in tea, lip balm, shampoos and a myriad of culinary recipes. It grows like a weed in North America, but is the currency of survival for many struggling farmers in India. Mint, a common plant that includes menthol, peppermint, lavender and sage has for years, a redeeming quality that has benefited rural farmers in Asia’s second-largest country: It’s simple to grow and harvest, and doesn’t take a lot of technological knowledge to benefit from its crops. It can also be sold as an oil and repurposed to a variety of commodities.
That’s been great for manufacturers that use herbs like peppermint and spearmint in their high-demand candies and drinks. According to Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), some 750,000 mint farmers in India produce 80 percent of the cash crop.
Mars Wrigley Confectionery (Mars), which produces well-known products like Wrigley Gum, Altoids mints and Extra has been looking at whether increased training on new growing techniques could increase profits and output for mint farmers, some of whom produce their living from one acre of land. Introducing growers to technological advances, it reasoned, might not only benefit the farmers, but reduce water consumption and improve environmental health.