Remote tribal farmers, who are in a hilly Chintapalli region, around 120 kms from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, are taking up expansion of cultivation of the local variety of turmeric, which has higher curcumin content, a key ingredient which is in high demand in the pharmaceutical industry.
Around 2,000 tribal farmers in the region, who have a total of approximately 1,000 acre, are growing this crop with support from the government of Andhra Pradesh. The unique differentiation of this local variety is that this region’s turmeric comes with 5-7% curcumin content as compared to 3-4% which is in the regular turmeric.
Chintapalli region is part of Arakku valley region of Andhra Pradesh and the state government is putting in lot of efforts to support the tribal farmers of this region. The farmers traditionally have been growing this variety of turmeric through the natural process and the soil here supports organic crops. The AP government has initiated the public-private-partnership for integrated agriculture development (PPP-IAD) and Lawrencedale Agro Processing India (LEAF), is one among the few farmer development companies which are part of this initiative.
In the current situation of coronavirus attack, curcumin helps up in boosting the immunity and fight against viral replication. The cost for normal varieties of turmeric when large food processors buy in bulk quantities is between Rs 70-80 per kg. “We are in advanced discussions with multiple pharmaceutical companies, primarily the over-the-counter (OTC) majors and we should be finalising the transactions shortly. We are close to signing transactions with six companies in this segment,” Palat Vijayaraghavan, founder & CEO, LEAF, said. The price of high curcumin content variety comes at a cost and is higher by at least 40% given the nature of produce.
“We have been working with the government of Andhra Pradesh across various growing locations and we are planning to expand our scope to work with turmeric growers in the region of Chintapalli,” Vijayaraghavan, said. “This turmeric variety with higher curcumin content is in high demand from the pharmaceutical sector and LEAF is in active discussions with them for establishing the value chain from the remote tribal belt of Andhra Pradesh,” he added.
“The regular turmeric crop is of one year, whereas the turmeric from the Chintapalli region comes once in two years. Due to the inherent nature and variety of this crop the curcumin content is higher than the regular variety,” Vijayaraghavan said. The volume of this crop is also considerably less at around 4-5 tonne per acre as against the 15-16 tonne of the regular variety. The regular variety is in high demand in the processed foods industry while the high curcumin variety, because of its inherent immunity boosters for human beings, is in high demand in the pharmaceutical industries. LEAF will engage with the tribal farmers comprehensively by improving the quality of the crop, even as it enables access to high quality plant protection and nutrition solutions besides also enabling access to organised credit for the tribal farmers.