The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Andhra Pradesh Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Board (APMAPB) have jointly launched a campaign to create awareness among people on ‘Patri Puja’, different leaves used during Ganesh festival.

“There were 21 plant leaves offered to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi, all of which have important medicinal properties to cure common health problems encountered during the rainy seasons like fever, cough, cold, stomach upsets and some skin diseases,” Dr K P Srivasuki, Chief Executive Officer told PTI.

Although the tradition of patri puja was continuing, the chain of learning has weakened in the rural areas and broken fully in urban areas, Dr. Srivasuki, who is also Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said.

“In order to restore this important cultural heritage and create awareness among people, we have jointly launched the programme by distributing posters and pamphlets published in three different languages for depicting the 21 plants along with photographs,” he said.

Dr. Srivasuki further said that once this awareness programme was created in urban areas, the demand would create vast opportunities for commercial cultivation of atleast a few species in rural areas.

P Mohanaiah, Chief General Manager, NABARD, said that the campaign was taken up at district level in co-operation with the board’s district development managers and district administration.

“We are using services of over 4300 existing farmer clubs for this programme,” Mr. Mohanaiah said adding that NABARD is planning to open 1200 more farmers clubs this year in the State.

“By Ganesh Chaturthi festival next year, we could succeed in promoting farmers to cultivate some of the important plants used for Ganesh puja,” he said.

This awareness campaign would be a major step in generating demand in the market which would prompt commercial cultivation of at least seven medicinal plants in and around urban centres.

Mr. Mohanaiah said the board would assist the farmers for getting financial help if they come forward to cultivate the medicinal plant.

NABARD and APMAPB has jointly announced a theme line ’Protect nature that will protect you’ for their joint programme on eco-friendly agri-business.