WHERE : India
Mint farmers in India produce 80% of the world’s supply of mint and rely on the crop to provide household liquidity. Declining soil health, increasing cost of production, and the degrading quality of inputs has cause decreased productivity and reduced farmer incomes. Mars Wrigley Confectionery relies on the mint supply chain in India to provide certain types of mint oil for its gum and mints products, and is committed to sustainably sourcing mint through improved livelihoods for smallholder producers and responsible water usage.
Since 2014, Tanager (operating then as ASI) has been working with Mars Wrigley Confectionery to conduct research that informs their sustainable sourcing investments in India, and to provide strategic design and agricultural extension support for good agricultural practices in mint. Tanager is currently implementing the Shubh Mint project—part of the company’s AdvanceMint program—to increase mint oil production and to double incomes for 22,000 smallholder farmers over the next five years. The project promotes a combination of agronomic and distillation practices to produce higher quantity and quality of mint yields, improve the socioeconomic condition of mint farmers, and improve water conservation practices.
The project was co-created iteratively, informed by thoughtful analysis, reflection, testing of assumptions. Initially, Tanager was engaged to conduct a mint value chain assessment. We performed primary and secondary research in Uttar Pradesh to map the mint industry in India, identify key levers in the value chain that impact mint production and smallholder farmers, and present recommendations to Mars Wrigley Confectionery. Additional research was conducted in partnership with the Sustainable Food Lab, to beta test a methodology for estimating a living income to achieve a decent quality of life for rural, mint-growing households in Uttar Pradesh, India. The study provided important insights into dynamics of mint-growing households, including income sources and crop rotation patterns, gender roles and distribution of labor, and the costs of a nutritious diet as well as other household needs.
Subsequently, Tanager compiled a compendium of good agronomic practices for mint cultivation and distillation based on consultations with farmers, experts from CSIR-CIMAP, and private sector companies working at different points in the mint value chain. The compendium is available for download. Tanager tested the effectiveness of different agronomic practices, mint varieties, irrigation techniques, and distillation units on the quantity and quality of mint oil produced by smallholders. The outcomes of the study informed the design of the Shubh Mint project.
The Shubh Mint project will increase mint oil production and double incomes for 22,000 smallholder farmers over the next five years to ensure their profitability and sustainability of the industry.
- Initial project results indicate that farmers have nearly doubled their production of mint and are earning record profits from the crop.