The Kashmiri rose oil worth millions

This article first appeared in our partner site, Independent Urdu

The sight that greets you as you enter Bonera Farm in the central Pulwama district of the Kashmir Valley, is that of women picking roses in the warm afternoon heat. It is from these blooms that the area’s famous rose oil is extracted.

The farm is located at a distance of 40 km from the region’s summer capital Srinagar. Spread over an area of about 60 hectares, the farm is said to be the largest in Jammu and Kashmir. It produces aromatic spices, rose water and oil, and medicinal herbs.

Dr. Shahid Rasool, lead scientist of the Bonera Field Station established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in India, told Independent Urdu that, “Rose oil is sold for 1.2 million rupees (£13,000) per kg and lavender oil is priced upwards of 1 million rupees (£11,000) per kg in the market so the industry is very profitable”.

Globally, Bulgaria is the largest producer of rose oil in the world. In India, rosehip is cultivated for the purposes of extracting oil in the regions of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh. It is estimated that 80 to 100 kg of rose oil is produced in the country every year.

Pulwama is the only district in Jammu and Kashmir that exports rose oil. According to Dr. Shahid Rasool, about 450 people work in Bonera Farm. He adds, “A growing number of young entrepreneurs, hill farmers and those out of work are turning their attention to flower crops because the industry is far more profitable than traditional farming or horticulture.”

Translated by Tooba Ali, reviewed by Celine Assaf