Aimed at promoting sustainable sourcing of mint, Kochi-headquartered Mane Kancor Ingredients, part of France-based Mane Group, has tied up with more than 7,000 mint farmers. The company has taken the initiative to encourage sustainable supply chains for mint, a key ingredient in the flavour and fragrance industry, considering the ever-increasing demand for high-quality mint-based products. The pioneering Mint Sustainable Programme addresses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) right from nursery to distillation.

“We introduced a technology called Early Mint Technology (EMT) with the help and guidance of scientists from the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP). The stolons are planted in the nursery much before the usual main land sowing periods and allowed to grow into plantlets, which are then transplanted into the main fields on either side of a ridge, unlike the traditional system,” said Geemon Korah, CEO, Director, Mane Kancor Ingredients.

He stated that it all started when the company realised the continuous increase in the cost of inputs, which had led to an increase in the cost of production of mentha oil, while alternative synthetic variants were 25-30 per cent cheaper. “Farmers were shifting away from mint cultivation. A change was gathering momentum due to high cost of cultivation, reduced productivity, climate change and market fluctuations,” he said.

According to research done by experts from Mane Kancor, EMT helped farmers increase their yield by 20 per cent, reduce their cost of cultivation by 20 per cent and the irrigation requirement by 25 per cent. It also prevents any crop loss due to flooding in the field as plants are grown on ridges.

“We are now closely working with CIMAP to provide the latest high-yielding and climate resistant planting material. It is claimed to increase the yield by 20 per cent. Currently, it is in the pilot phase and full-fledged commercial production is expected to start from the new season,” explained Korah.

Mane Kancor agronomists have not only trained the farmers on sustainable agricultural practices, but also prepared them for certification by a third-party auditor under the Farm Sustainable Assessment (FSA) programme on the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) platform. It will provide them access to better markets and, in turn, better prices. Currently, more than 7,000 farmers are certified under FSA by Mane Kancor.

All the sustainable small farmers’ fields, numbering close to 7,000, are geo-tagged and geo mapped making use of remote sensing and satellite imagery services, to ensure traceability of the raw materials produced through sustainable farming practices. The company also provides direct market linkage to sustainable mint farmers by way of minimum support price fixed at beginning of each season.