Palmarosa oil is extracted from Cymbopogon martini of the Gramineae family and can also be known as East Indian and Turkish geranium.
The main growing areas in India are said to be the wetlands in the provinces of India, as well as Nepal. It is a slow growing grass which flowers over a 3 month period. Only the flower can it be harvested.
Palmarosa is high in geraniol which is not only used for its rose-like smell but for a number of medicinal and household uses. Palmarosa oil has been shown to be an effective antifungal and mosquito repellent. As for its popular rose-like odour it can be found in many cosmetics and soaps.
In 2014 Indian exports were around 30MT of palmarosa significantly down from 45MT in 2013. This could be largely due to a poor season leading to price increases. The USA is the largest importers of Indian palmarosa, contributing to around 35-40% of annual sales. Europe collectively is larger with 50% of the global sales with France taking around half of the total amount.
Palmarosa is a versatile botanical that flourishes in well-drained loamy soil at best. However, it also grows happily in poor fertile soils, slopes, gravel and even in coarse sand. Hot and humid weather is ideal for this plant to grow. For some years, production of palmarosa was rather low, and so were the prices. But of late the market has seen a gradual revival of prices, thereby encouraging farmers to increase cultivation. Demand had lost a bit of traction due to the prices inching up over the last two years. However, currently the situation has normalised with reasonable demand, good availability and steady prices.
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