Mentha arvensis (menthol mint) is an aromatic perennial herb grown in sub-tropical parts of north India. It is used as an ingredient in cold and cough medicines and related pharmaceuticals, dentifrices, cosmetics, mouthwashes, scenting of tobacco products and flavouring of beverages.
Menthol mint is cultivated in large areas of the Indo-Gangetic plains of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Bihar. Seventy-five per cent of the crop is grown in Uttar Pradesh, 15% in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, 5% in Uttarakhand and the remaining 5% in Punjab and Haryana. Uttar Pradesh is the leading mentha producing state in area and production.
India is a leading exporter contributing about 80% (40,000 tons) of essential oil, menthol crystal and allied products. Today, mint cultivation occupies about 3,00,000 hectares in India. More than 95 per cent of the mint cultivation area is by CSIR-CIMAP developed mint varieties. Continuous development and deployment of improved high-oil yielding, short duration, location-specific varieties and related agro-technologies is a part of CSIR-CIMAP success stories in promoting mint cultivation. Further value-addition has taken place through the improved distillation process and products. Most importantly, CSIR, with its mint production enhancement technologies, has generated employment to the extent of 648 lakh man-days in the farms and 162 lakh man-days in the MSME sector.
India had taken over as a dominant supplier to the international market in the mid-2000s and has maintained its position as a global leader in producing and exporting its oil and allied products. Presently, India is the World leader in the production and export of Mint oil and its products, with an approx capacity of 40,000 tons and its contributing share now stand at 80-85% of world production.
CSIR-CIMAP has played an important role in developing the mint industry in India from a menthol importing country to the leading global producer & exporter of menthol mint oil by increasing its cultivation, short duration & high yielding varieties and superior agro and processing technologies. To date, 12 varieties have been developed by CSIR-CIMAP and adopted by the farmers.
The Indian farmers are cultivating mint crops as a bonus crop in Zaid season between Ravi and Kharif and earning more income than their main cereal crops. The mint and allied products are contributing more than Rs. Five thousand crores in the Indian economy due to continuous support from CSIR-CIMAP to farmers and industries.
Dr Manoj Semwal