1. Success Story

Annatto, the ‘Lipstick seeds’ for Commercial Farming

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

This new fact and idea can really make you rich; 250 tonnes of Annatto is exported from India every
year, and it is mainly grown and marketed in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh,
Assam, Maharashtra, Odisha and Karnataka. 

As we all know that lipstick is an important item on the vanity table of every woman. Available in
different hues, women take pride in wearing it and making a style statement. But do they ever give a
thought to how a lipstick is made? 

Do you know a lipstick that you can wear without fear? The answer lies in the Adivasi habitations in
Rampachodavaram, Chaparai, and Maredumilli in Andhra Pradesh - the producers of so called 'Lipstick
seeds ' which are non-carcinogenic and are prevalent among cosmetic industry providing lipsticks to
women that are safe in terms of carcinogens found in other cosmetic brands. 

But lack of organized trade for the non-carcinogenic seed affects growers .

Details about the seeds 

“A Jabra seed, as Annatto is referred to in local parlance, can be harvested three times in a year. We sell
the seeds to either the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC) or businessmen, or exchange them
in shandies for clothes and other cosmetics,” Mr. Reddy told The Hindu. 

The Hindu has made a report on the farmer that grows the seeds. They found that Matla Adi Reddy, a
55-year-old tribal farmer from Maredumilli Agency area, has no clue about how Annatto / lipstick seeds
are used. But he grows the plants in his backyard as they give him a regular income thrice in a year. To
feed his family, Mr. Reddy cultivates millets on his three-acre extent of land. 

The seeds have a huge demand across the world as they are natural colour agents and are considered
to be non-carcinogenic. 

Other medicinal benefits of seeds 

The seeds reportedly have healing properties and are used in treating digestive disorders, weak bones, headache, neural tube defects, eye ailments and respiratory problems. Mr. Reddy is not the only one growing the plant with spiky red and brown pods. Almost all households have it in their backyard.

Other than wild turmeric and tobacco, Annatto is the most common backyard plant in Maredumilli, Rampachodavaram, and Chaparai Agency areas, and in many parts of the EasternGhats. The seeds of lant also provide colour for edible products like cheese, food preparations, bakery and sweets all over the world. However, these rare seeds have no fixed price as there is no organised trade in the tribal areas. “Earlier, we used to sell the produce to the GCC, but they have stopped procuring it for reasons unknown. A few agents from far-off places come and buy the seeds for ₹80 to ₹100 a kg,” said 50-yearold Rudra, a small farmer near Chaparai, who also cultivates wild turmeric and tobacco.  

Like this article?

Hey! I am Dr. Sangeeta Soi. Did you liked this article and have suggestions to improve this article? Mail me your suggestions and feedback.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters