Turmeric is synonymous with Jaintia Hills and the Jaintia Hills district of the Meghalaya is home to one of the finest turmeric in the world – the Lakadong variety. Lakadong has a curcumin content averaging 7.5% to 12%, is chemical free, and is hence poised to be sought by the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industry. 

The Lakadong turmeric is unique in the world because of exceptionally high Curcumin content. As a result, farmers and local government organisations believe it can change the lives of countless farmers if its uniqueness is properly exploited. There is an established market for the variety, and also buyers who are willing to pay a premium for its quality. 

Curcumin is an active compound with major health benefits. It has been touted to have the potential to prevent several diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart diseases. It is considered medicinal owing to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties supporting business expansion. Increasing demand for supplemental antioxidants to reduce inflammation, aging effect, and provide soothing on the skin are expected to shift the consumer preference towards Curcumin rich compounds. It also helps in fighting depression, control cholesterol level, and stomach ulcers.

In spite of a huge demand, farmers have not been able to fully capitalise on the opportunity mainly because of a large number of small and marginal farmers, absence of focussed research, low individual volumes exacerbated by lack of organized aggregation, weak post-harvest management, and market facilities, skills, technology, dominance of middlemen, access to finance and insufficient planning.

Most Lakadong farmers use efficient traditional methods of harvesting and lags behind in terms of technology use

When sold as a culinary spice, simply processed Lakadong, does not command a high price for its high curcumin content. Consumers buying Lakadong merely as a food additive or spice may not pay premium despite its higher curcumin content. However, the nutraceutical firms that extract curcumin from turmeric, which benefit from this and are willing to pay a higher price for the same. These nutraceutical firms do not require powdered Lakadong, they have a requirement for slice dried turmeric. Therefore, the farmers and other stakeholders have to be oriented to avoid investing in powdering units which would result in idle capacities and non-performing assets and should rather be directed to establish sorting, grading, cleaning, slicing and drying units.

Most of Lakadong farms are small homesteads scattered across the Lakadong turmeric belt which includes villages of Lakadong, Mookaiaw, Umchalait, Sahsniang, Looksi and many others. The area is, barely 50 square kilometres, lying around the coordinates of 25°10’N and 92°16’ E at an altitude of around 610 metres. But the region has best soil for turmeric which explains the quality of the Lakadong.

In the year 2016-17, the total production of Turmeric was 16,386MT in Meghalaya. Out of the state’s total production, 53%, i.e., 8,666 MT is grown in the West Jantia Hills district, which is well known to produce Lakadong Turmeric.

Farmers in Meghalaya make twice as much farming the Lakadong variety than Lasyein and Lachein, the other two types of turmeric grown in the region

Meghalaya’s Mission Lakadong 2018-2023 aims to produce 50000 MT (metric ton) of the turmeric per annum in the next five years. As per departmental figures for 2015-2016, the total area of turmeric cultivation in the state is 2,516 hectares, yielding roughly 1600 MT of turmeric annually. Most of the turmeric grown in East and West Jaintia Hill districts is the Lakadong variety with a combined production of nearly 900 MT.

Deus Labs researchers and management toured the Jaintia Hills region to understand how traditional Lakadong farmers cab be effectively connected to the premium curcumin buyers

Deus Labs hopes to leverage the Meghalaya Government initiatives to bring Lakadong to masses and bridge the gap between farmers, market research, technology and business intelligence. 

To initiate operations, the team has been touring Meghalaya extensively to understand the process of Lakadong farming. The team has met farmers, understood limitations hindering high quality production and begun establishing supply chains with existing farms and processing facilities.

For this, the company is investing to achieve a production capacity of 500 MT per month through community farming. The company is also investing significantly in research, processing, and marketing capabilities to cover all stages of Lakadong supply chain to ensure high product quality.

Sliced Lakadong Drying Facility

India is one of the largest manufacturers of curcumin, contributing to more than 80.0% of the global production, which is on account of presence of large-scale turmeric cultivations. Low consumer awareness of curcumin as a healthy ingredient in India results in majority of it being exported to North America and Europe.

The global curcumin market share is fragmented due to the presence of several local and international players in the industry. Favourable government strategies to expand the production capacity and increase exports will provide and impetus to the curcumin demand. For instance, Government of India has taken several initiatives to promote the cultivation of turmeric in north-eastern India. As an example of such initiatives, development of better transportation infrastructure by constructing road and rail routes in the region will support the business expansion.

  • Location of Project : Jaintia Hills, Megalaya

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