“Vegetable vendors from different areas buy mint from me. I earn Tk 3 lakh on an average from selling mint every year,” says a farmer
A good number of farmers in Rangpur have been earning unexpected profits from growing mint, a medicinal crop, on small patches of land.
Mint is most popular among people living in towns or larger metropolitan areas. However, villagers are increasingly consuming the herb for its medicinal properties as well as unique taste.
For example, mint is used to make a traditional spicy yogurt drink known as “Borhani” in Bangla that is widely consumed at various social events such as weddings.
Other than lending a unique taste though, mint is useful for treating numerous gastrointestinal ailments, body aches and other diseases.
As such, the mint market is increasing day by day.
According to officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), around 200 farmers from different villages under five districts — Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Rangpur – have been commercially farming mint for the last few years.
The amount of land they each cultivate ranges from around 10 decimals to 20 decimals. However, there are many other farmers who grow the herb for personal use on small amounts of land.
Each of the commercial farmers annually produce around 50 kilogrammes (kg) to 60 kg of mint per decimal, with the herb selling for about Tk 150 to Tk 200 per kg.
When asked, farmers said they were still growing the crop on small amounts of land considering the fact that the mint market was not growing as expected. Other than individual consumers, herbalists also purchase mint for use in herbal treatments.
The farmers went on to say that there are not many costs involved in growing mint as only regular monitoring and care is required.
The herb can be produced year-round, sans the monsoon season as mint leaves die in rainy weather.
Ruhul Amin Babu and his wife Anwara Begum, who hail from Karnapur village of Mogholhat union in Lalmonirhat sadar upazila, have become self-sufficient by cultivating mint.
They have been commercially growing the crop on just 10 decimals of land for the last 18 years.
Babu told The Daily Star that about 20 years ago a local herbalist advised him to take mint juice when he suffered from stomach ailments.
Failing to find mint anywhere in the vicinity of his residence, he ended up having to collect the herb from Bogura. Later, he planted a few mint leaves beside his homestead for his own need.
But as the demand for the plant increased, within two years he started cultivating mint commercially.
“In the beginning, I used to earn Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000 a year by selling mint. At present, I am earning on an average Tk 2 lakh annually,” Babu said.
“Vegetable sellers buy mint directly from me. Besides, several hotel and restaurant owners regularly buy the herb as well,” he added.
Buyers from all over the country purchase mint from Babu, who sends the herb to them via courier services once paid.
Anwara said she regularly cares for their mint field.
“Mint farming has kept our family well-run. The family is dependent on the money we earn from selling this crop,” she said.
Suresh Chandra Sarker, a farmer from Baidderbazar village of Kurigram’s Rajarhat upazila, said he has been commercially farming mint on 20 decimals of land for the last eight years.
“Vegetable vendors from different areas purchase mint from me. I earn Tk 3 lakh on an average from selling mint every year,” he said, adding that many customers directly purchase the herb from him.
Azizar Rahman, a mint farmer of Pakhibandha village in Rangpur sadar upazila, said he has loyal customers that regularly buy the herb from him.
“Three vegetable vendors in Rangpur town buy mint produced on my 15 decimals of land regularly,” he said.
“For farming mint, we do not need to spend more than Tk 1,000 per decimal but we can earn huge amounts of money in return,” he said, adding that many other farmers would start growing the herb if the market grows.
Narayan Chandra Barmon, another farmer of the same village, said he planted some mint plants around his homestead for personal use as herbal treatment.
“But I am trying to get into the market for mint and if I do, I will be farming mint commercially,” he added.
Subhas Chandra Das, a vegetable vendor in Rangpur city, said he and some other vegetable vendors at a local kitchen market sell mint regularly.
“We have also sent mint to wholesale markets in different parts of the country,” he said, adding that they sell each kg of mint for between Tk 200 and Tk 250.
Hamidur Rahman, deputy director of the DAE office in Lalmonirhat, said mint has to be cultivated on high ground where water cannot remain stagnant.
Mint yields in the region are bumper and in order to produce this medicinal crop, only organic manure has to be applied as there is no need to use chemical fertilisers or pesticides, Rahman added.