Lemongrass is one of the wonder plants. It has many benefits and can be easily be grown at home for personal consumption commercially in large farm. It is widely used in the Asian cuisine to provide the specific taste and smell, peculiar to lemongrass. The oil extracted from its leaves is used in the manufacture of soaps and candles. For thousands of years, it had been used to cure various ailments ranging from stomach cramps and arthritic pain.
Planting it on commercial scale is rather easy as the plant can grow effectively in almost any soil condition. It requires tropical weather with a lot of sunshine. Due the ease of growing, it had created high competition causing the drop in price.
The followings are the suggested steps to grow it on commercial basis:
1. Planning stage:
a. Secure the market. As the cycle is about 6 months, securing buyers is the critical element of the project.
b. Equip yourself with the necessary skills and knowledge. It will be a good idea to attend courses and seek advice from the agricultural authority.
c. Familiarize with the list of suppliers of seedlings and equipments. They can be a source for information and advice.
d. Plan the detail of the project. The project can be divided into 4 steps.
– Site preparation
– Planting and first month.
– Growing Stage
– Harvesting and Marketing.
2. Site preparation. Evaluate the site with an expert to check for suitability of the soil. Although lemongrass can be grown in a wide range of soil conditions, it would require specific treatment and fertilizing techniques for different soil type. This treatment can add up to the cost.
Synchronize the site preparation with the purchase of the seedlings. Planting is preferred to be done in the raining season, to reduce the need of watering. Clear the land and plough is twice, the final is using the rotor.
3. Planting and first month. Planting can be done two weeks after the soil preparation stage. Three seedlings will be planted into each hole, aligned in grids of 4 feet by 3 feet. Insert the seedlings about 2 inches into the soil and firm up the soil. Water it immediately. The plants will need daily watering for 7 days. Then weekly round to replace the dead seedlings for the first month. After the first month, the replacement of the dead seedlings should stop.
4. Growing Stage: Lemongrass does not require close attention while growing. Fertilize is monthly for first three month. Clear the weeds manually. It does not have natural enemies and insets do not attack the plant.
5. Harvesting and marketing: Harvesting is the most difficult and time consuming task as has to be done manually. Depending on the contract with the buyer, the lemongrass can be harvesting in 3 ways depending its usage. For oil extract, cut the leave about one foot from the ground. You can repeat this cycle monthly for 4 times (4 months). For seedlings, when harvesting, leave a small amount of roots and cutoff the leaves leaving about a foot length of the stalk. If it is to be marketed for consumption, the harvesting is similar to that for the seedlings except the roots have to be cut-off.
With proper planning and controlled implementation, growing lemongrass can be a profitable proposition. The demand for the product has increased as the Asian foods are widely accepted by the West.