Small-scale mehedi (textitLawsonia inermis L.) farming in the central Bangladesh: A promising NTFP-based rural livelihood outside the forests


Throughout the world ornamentation of body with mehedi (Lawsonia inermis L.) leaf paste, with the trade name `henna body art' is becoming increasingly popular. The worldwide increasing demand of mehedi leaf encourages many countries to adopt commercial farming of the plant. Farmers living in central Bangladesh recently commenced small-scale mehedi farming, primarily with the purpose of meeting national demand. A total of 182 farmers are engaged in mehedi farming and a study was conducted among 36 of them (a 20% random sample) to explore indigenous management techniques, marketing, livelihood potential and constraints of the enterprise. Farming was reported to be the major primary occupation of the study area. An average of 0.05 ha land of the respondents was used for mehedi cultivation, which constituted 16.7% of their average farm land. The farmers applied their own indigenous technology in every aspect of the farming, using branch cuttings as the only propagation material. The financial analysis indicated that mehedi farming is a profitable and attractive option for rural livelihoods [with an estimated net present value of Tk (Bangladeshi currency unit, 1 US $ = 68 Taka (as of May, 2009).) 179,500 for 0.1 ha plantation]. However, the enterprise faces several constraints, including absence of a nursery for supplying planting materials, storage and effective marketing facilities, available capital for investment, improved technology, and above all, government support. If the government extends cooperation by assisting farmers with training, technology, credit and market development, mehedi farming could become an important revenue-earning enterprise in the small-scale cottage sector of Bangladesh.

Small-scale Forestry