The microbrewery industry has boomed in the last decade, increasing demand for hop shoots. Hops are a key ingredient in beer, and as the demand for craft beer has increased, so has the demand for hops. Our farmers are well-positioned to take advantage of this demand, thanks to our vast farming lands and a conducive environment for hops cultivation in India.
Indian farmers have reaped high benefits of growing this crop, as they are able to get good prices for their hops – A kilo of hop shoots is selling for close to 1,000 Euros (around Rs.85,000).
What Are Hop Shoots?
Hops are the female flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus. Hop shoots, which are native to North America and Europe, were thought to be weeds until their properties were discovered. The plant is a vigorous, climbing, herbaceous perennial, usually trained to grow up strings in a field called a hopfield, hop garden, or hop kiln. They are used as a flavoring and preservative agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter taste.
The Economic Importance Of Hops Cultivation In India
Since their discovery in the first part of 11th century, hop-shoots have been widely used to flavor beer. Its use as a vegetable and an herbal remedy increased over time in numerous nations.
With the help of modern technology, many farming communities in India are boldly taking risks in increasing productivity and also adopting new methods of agriculture. Hops cultivation in India has been taken up since 1975, primarily in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. Thanks to the ever-growing demand for craft beer, hops are in high demand, and Indian farmers are well-positioned to take advantage of this. Modern tech has enabled farmers to grow not only better crops, but also new ones with high medical and market value.
Industries In Demand – Hops cultivation in India is still in its infancy, but it is a promising venture for farmers. Not just the craft beer industry, pharmaceuticals and other industries are lining up to buy the product.
Antibacterial properties – Hops extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of a number of bacteria. This property makes it a valuable ingredient in the pharmaceutical industry, as it can be used to create modern drugs that boost immunity, treat chronic diseases, in anti-inflammatory treatments, and more.
Medicinal uses – A medicine made from the stem of hop shoots has also been found to have a high curative effect in the treatment of tuberculosis (TB).
Hop-shoot is also used as a herb in European countries, where it is used to keep the skin gleaming and young because the vegetable is high in antioxidants.
The shoots contain an acid known as humulones and lupulones, which are thought to be effective in killing cancer cells in the human body.
The medication improves the digestive system, relieves depression and anxiety, acts as an analgesic, and treats insomnia.
These medicinal properties have given a considerable boost to hops cultivation in India.
Craft beer industry – The flowers of the hop plant, Humulus lupulus, are called hops-cones or strobile. These flowers are used as a stability agent in the making of beer. They impart a bitter taste to the final product, and are a key ingredient in many craft beers.
And the bitter flavor of hops, which is normally undesirable in food and beverage manufacturers, helps to balance out the sweetness.
Land & Soil Requirement For Hops Cultivation In India
In March, hop plants start to sprout from the ground. The stems are plentiful but need to be pruned because they are weak. Cutting the plant stems and new wood constitutes pruning.
The crops should be handled carefully to prevent rotting of the old wood, which could cause the bine as a whole to wilt. The ground is carefully dragged prior to planting, and Hop poles and wires are installed.
Hop crowns can survive temperatures of -25°C or lower when protected by snow or soil. For optimal growth, a dormant period with 5 to 6 weeks of near-freezing temperatures is necessary.
Although there are many different types of ideal soil, they should all be deep and well-drained to encourage the best growth of the large root mass of the hop plant.
A mature plant’s perennial root system can spread out up to 5 m laterally and more than 4 m deep.
In order to absorb and store the water and nutrients required to promote rapid growth in the spring and summer months, an extensive root system is required.
Challenges Faced By Farmers In Hops Cultivation In India
Inspite of great demand, why is hops cultivation in India so expensive?
With a labor-intensive cultivation process, hops cultivation in India is expensive. Additionally, the necessary soil and climatic conditions must be in place for the plant to grow successfully. Without these, a hop crop will likely not produce flowers or hops.
Indian hop shoots were previously sold on the international market for up to $1,000 (roughly Rs. 1.1 lakhs) per kilo. However, poor marketing and high production costs have forced farmers in India to give up this lucrative industry of growing hops.
Hops cultivation in India presents many challenges, but with the right land, climate, and investment, it can be an economically viable venture for farmers. With the help of modern technology and an experienced workforce, farmers can maximize their yields and take advantage of India’s growing craft beer industry.
If you are looking to set up your own microbrewery, get the right guidance from the experts. Call us today and our team will be glad to help.