Aloe Vera farming in India is gaining popularity as aloe vera production profit per acre is much higher than normal agriculture and it can be done using much less water and effort. Aloe vera business can be done by selling the plant leaves or extracting and marketing the juice. Get complete details on cultivation process, aloe vera production per acre, profit and marketing in India.

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Aloe Vera or Ghrit Kumari (Alloeh means “Shining bitter substance”) is a succulent plant with great commercial importance and health potentials. Botanically it is known as Aloe barbadensis miller which belongs to family Asphodelaceae or Liliaceae. It is a xerophytic plant therefore mainly grown in dry areas of the world. Aloe Vera plant is also known as the “plant of immortality”.

Aloe Vera is a perennial shrub, they are mainly cultivated in tropical or subtropical regions across the globe where weather doesn’t have chilling condition.  Its commercial cultivation is mainly followed in Aruba, Haiti, India, South Africa, Unite States of America and Venezuela. In India, it is grown in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Aloe Vera Leaf

The leaves are triangular, fleshy with serrated edges. Each leaf has three layers: The first layer is inner clear gel layer which consists of 99% water and rest 1 % substance is composed of amino acids, lipids, sterols, vitamins and glucomannans. The gel is protected by a film of a substance known as aloe. Aloe is composed resins and aloins.  It contains high amount of mucilage, formed by galacturonic and glucuronic acids, linked to sugars such as glucose, galactose and arabinose. Other polysaccharides which are present, contain high amount of uronic acids, fructose and other hydrolyzable sugars. The gel also has some phenolic components with high antioxidant property, generally called cromones and anthraquinones.

Aloe Vera leaf with juice
Aloe Vera leaf with juice

The middle layer is made of latex which contains bitter yellow sap. This sap contains anthraquinones and glycosides.

The outer is a thick layer of 15–20 cells called as rind. This thick layer protects the inner gel. Inside the rind, there are several vascular bundles responsible for transportation of substances such as water (xylem) and starch (phloem). Rind is responsible for the synthesis of carbohydrates and proteins.

Aloe Vera Market in India

Aloe vera cultivation and marketing in India is not tough. Pharmaceuticals, therapeutic and cosmetic industries are major consumers of Aloe Vera. Farmers can go forward with contract farming with aloe vera buyers like Patanjali. Aloe products are mainly comprised of ointments, juices, creams, body lotions and shampoos. Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicines are using Aloe Vera since ancient time. Gel extracted from Aloe Vera is useful for the treatment of wounds, burns, sore eyes, etc. Aloe Vera gel is beloved to be comprised of 75 nutrients, 200 active compounds, 20 minerals, 18 amino acids and 12 vitamins.

The aloe vera sector is supported by its consumption pattern. During year 2017, the revenue generation from Indian aloe vera market was around $ 23.72 million. The industry is growing fast along with the rising need of consumers. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.02% (in value terms) during 2018-2023. Aloe vera juice is a healthy option for people suffering from high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and diabetes. Demand of aloe vera juice is rising due to the increase in number of health-conscious consumers. Many cosmetic industries are using aloe products in their products observing the consumers interest towards natural products.

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Aloe Vera Cultivation

Climatic Requirements in Aloe Vera Farming

Aloe vera plants can survive constant drought conditions. However, the crop thrives well in entire tropical and sub-tropical regions with mean annual rainfall of 35-40 cm. Aloe vera cultivation doesn’t require tons of water for its growth. It can grow in the presence of low water availability and hence best suited for cultivation in arid and semi-arid regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Soil Requirements for Aloe Vera Plantation

Marginal to sub-marginal soils having low fertility can bud aloe vera plants. Aloe vera plantation can survive in soils with high pH, sodium and potassium values. In central India, black cotton soil is found to be appropriate for aloe vera cultivation. For commercial cultivation, well-drained loam soils to coarse sandy loam soils with pH value up to 8.5 are more suitable.

Aloe Vera plantation
Aloe Vera plantation

Aloe Vera Varieties

There are around 150 species of aloe vera. Aloe barbedensis, Aloe indica, Aloe vulgaris, Aloe chinensis, Aloe perfoliata, Aloe littoralis and Aloe abyssinica are commonly grown species for consumption and therapeutic purposes. Below are the varieties released for Indian market:

  • IC111271, IC111269, IC111280, IC111273, IC111279 and IC111267 varieties were introduced by National Botanical and Plant Genetic Resource (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), New Delhi. These varieties have high aloin content with great therapeutic value.
  • IC111267, IC1112666, IC111280, IC111280, IC111272 and IC111277 varieties were also released by National Botanical and Plant Genetic Resource (Indian Council of Agricultural Research), New Delhi. The gel density and quantity are abundant and hence mostly used in cosmetic products.
  • AL-1 variety was released by Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Lucknow.

Land Preparation

Ploughing is totally dependent on the soil type and agroclimatic condition. Generally, 1-2 ploughing is done followed by levelling. Proper care should be taken when ploughing, soil should not be disturbed because the root system of aloe plants does not penetrate below 20-30 cm.  The entire field can be divided into several small plots of 10-15 m × 3 m. The fields must have slope for proper drainage of water and source of irrigation water. At the stage of final ploughing, apply farm yard manure at the rate of 10-15 tonne per hectare to enhance crop productivity.

Propagation

Either root suckers or rhizome cuttings are used for aloe vera propagation. When propagating with the help of rhizome, then the underground rhizome is dug out. A cutting of 5 to 5.5 cm is recommended which should contain minimum of two to three nodes. These cuttings are rooted in sand beds or containers after its sprouting is ready for the plantation. In the case of root suckers, the suckers are dug out from the parent plant and planted in row to row distance of 50×45 cm. In this, two third portion of the aloe plant must be inside the ground. After planting the suckers, the soil around the suckers should be firmly pressed to prevent water lodging.  However, the spacing between plant to plant varies sometimes, depending on the required yield.

Seed Rate in Aloe Vera Farming

Basically, in a hectare land 37,000-56,000 suckers can be planted. However, it completely depends up on the required planting density.

Irrigation for Aloe Vera Farming in India

During dry conditions, irrigation should be applied with interval of 15 days. In rainy or humid season, irrigation is not required. However, depending on the water availability less irrigation can be provided to the crop during winter season. First irrigation must be done immediately after root suckers are planted. Over watering the plants may create water logging in the field which can further destroys crops. The field should be dried first before any water application. Proper drainage should be maintained to expel extra water from the field.

Crop Nutrition

Use of organic manures, like farm yard manure, vermicompost or green manure are preferred for aloe vera crops. Recommended dose of farm yard manure is 10-15 tons per hectare which should be given at the time of soil preparation. It is advisable to follow FYM application in subsequent years also to harvest a high gel yielding crop. Vermicompost can be applied at the rate of 2.5-5.0 tons per hectare for obtaining higher leaf yield.

Weeding

Aloe vera plants should be free from weeds throughout the growing period of the crop. The first weeding followed by hoeing should be done within a month after planting. In subsequent years two weeding followed by light hoeing can be performed in each year. Unproductive, dried flower stalks and diseased plants should be destroyed and regularly removed from the field.

Intercropping with Aloe Vera Agriculture

Leguminous plants which are less competitive intercrops such as cluster bean, groundnut, sesame, isabgol, coriander, cumin etc. can be grown in the interspaces of aloe vera field during the first year. The intercropping is mostly successful under arid and semi-arid conditions. Intercropping can improve the soil health and generate additional income. Though, second year onwards these leguminous crops should not be planted otherwise it may result in foliage yield and low quality of the produce.

Insect Pests and Diseases in Aloe Vera Plantation

Mealy bug, anthracnose and leaf spots are the main threats of aloe vera crop.

Mealy bug

It is caused by Lepidocephalus and Pseudococcus. Yellowing and withering of the leaves are main symptoms. Solution: Apply Methyl [email protected] ml or [email protected] ml in 10 litres of water on roots and shoots of the plant.

Anthracnose

It may cause dieback, twig cankers, blotches, defoliation and shoot blight. It can be cured by spraying of 70% Neem oil.

Black brown leaf spots

The symptoms are reddish- brown spores that occur in oval or elongated pustules. The disease can rapidly grow in high humid condition. For the treatment during the weeding, spraying of 0.1% of parathion or 0.2% of malathion aqueous solution is done. Also, spray of 0.2% dithane M-45 can be scheduled on weekly basis to check leaf spot.

Harvesting and Aloe Vera Production

Aloe vera becomes fully mature in 18-24 months. Within a year the plants bear yellow tubular flowers and fruits that contain numerous seeds. Harvesting can be initiated 8 months onwards. It takes around 2 to 5 years duration to get bountiful yield for commercial purpose. Farmers often harvest aloe leaves in 3-4 pickings per year which further depends upon the growth of plants. In India, mostly manual harvesting is followed. In this, the leaves are plucked, and broken rhizome is left in the soil which will further sprout again to a new plant.

On an average, aloe vera production from a hectare of non-irrigated crop may yield 15-20 tons of aloe vera leaves and irrigated crop can yield up to 30-35 tons of aloe vera leaves.

Aloe Vera Processing

Aloe Vera farming business is not limited to only cultivation of the plant. One can set up a aloe vera processing plant and extract the aloe juice. Aloe vera juice is colourless and transparent like water. It is extracted from fresh aloe leaves. The juice doesn’t have any taste or odour, still it is used by many consumers for therapeutic purpose. Aloe vera gel and juice have various properties, hence can be used in either raw or processed forms.

Aloe Vera gel business
Aloe Vera gel business

Aloe Vera business involves post harvesting operations to make aloe products by crushing, grinding or pressing of the aloe vera leaves. The resultant product is aloe vera gel which is present inside leaves. Further, different kind of filtration process is followed along with stabilization of the gel. The final solution is mixed with other agents, creams, lotions to make pharmaceutical, cosmetic or edible items.

Harvested aloe vera can be directly sold to local vendors or processors. Even, within a limited budget and small man power setup, aloe vera processing plant can be installed. Processing plant will yield aloe vera juice or gel. Which can be further sold to cosmetic industries, pharma industries and other stakeholders. In this case, the aloe vera production profit margin would be huge, earning can be in crores. To make 150 liters of aloe vera juice, only one ton of aloe vera is required. The expenses incurred to make one liter of aloe vera juice is just Rs 40 only. Hence, one ton of aloe vera can generate good amount of income by processing into aloe vera juice. According to some secondary sources, more than 300 aloe vera processing units have been already established in the country.

Consumption Pattern

People are consuming aloe vera juice regularly to fight digestive issues, cholesterol and diabetes. The consumption of aloe vera juice or aloe products is rising among urban population. Awareness towards health benefits and its positive results are the main drivers of aloe industry. There are countless medicinal benefits of aloe vera, which is increasing its demand year on year. It has antibiotic and antifungal properties therefore ideal for skin diseases. Several cosmetic industries use aloe vera in their products like cream, body lotion, hand wash, shampoo, etc.

Aloe Vera Profit per Acre

Incidences of low rains, the decreasing level of ground water and soil degradation etc. are leaving few lands unproductive. They have become barren and not suitable for grain or legume crops. Therefore, cultivation of aloe vera in these lands would be profitable for farmers. Since, it requires minimum input of water the returns from aloe crop would be satisfactory.

Around 30 tons of aloe vera can be produced in 2 acres of land. The cost of harvested aloe vera stands at Rs 15,000 – 20, 0000 per tons in Indian market. Aloe vera is a low maintenance crop and doesn’t need huge funds to start aloe vera farming. Around Rs 40, 000 investments can give 5 to 6 lakhs rupees from aloe vera leaf production profit every year. One-time plantation of aloe vera can be harvested for 3 to 5 long years.

Aloe Vera Yield Schedule

Year 2Year 3 to 5
Leaves (t/ha)3040

References

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http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/farm_enterprises/Farm%20enterprises_%20aloevera.html
http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/9406/1/NPR%203%282%29%2085-87.pdf
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272093333_A_value_chain_on_aloe_vera_processing
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274315362_Aloe_vera_Development_of_gel_extraction_process_for_Aloe_vera_leaves
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/aloevera
http://irjponline.com/admin/php/uploads/1936_pdf.pdf

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