Special Correspondent

Live gene banks of rare medicinal plants to be set up

To be implemented in 14 panchayats

Fund for home remedies in panchayats

Thiruvananthapuram: Long-neglected local health practices and traditional home remedies are set to make a comeback, under a State-wide project launched by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE).

Titled Herbs for All and Health for All, the participatory programme seeks to promote home remedies based on traditional practices and endemic medicinal plants as an element of health management. It also focuses on conservation and cultivation of plants traditionally used for food and medicine. Revival of traditional dietary habits is another major objective.

In the first phase, the project will be implemented in 14 panchayats, one in each district.

Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs M. Vijayakumar inaugurated the programme at Vithura near here on Saturday evening.

The project includes the creation of a live gene bank of rare and endangered medicinal plants in each panchayat. Another highlight is the creation of a fund for home remedies in each panchayat. Each of the families in the selected panchayats would be encouraged to contribute one rupee to the fund daily. The collection will also be used for emergency medical assistance.

Apart from the families residing in the selected panchayats, the project will also have the participation of elected representatives, medical experts, scientists, agricultural experts and project officials.

The Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) at Palode will be the implementing agency.

Awareness programme

The action plan involves an awareness programme for villagers on epidemic prevention and training in conservation and sustainable exploitation of plants used for food and medicine. They will also be taught to prepare simple herbal combinations used as home remedies for common ailments. Training will be imparted in homestead-level cultivation of medicinal plants.

In the first phase, the project will be implemented in Vithura (Thiruvananthapuram), Veliyam (Kollam), Kuttoor (Pathanamthitta), Kanthalloor (Idukki), Cheruthana (Alappuzha), Neendur (Kottayam), Kuttampuzha (Ernakulam), Chelakkara (Thrissur), Malampuzha (Palakkad), Pulamanthol (Malappuram), Alavana (Kozhikode), Vellamunda (Wayanad), Kelakam (Kannur) and Pilikode (Kasaragod).

“The project is designed to revive the concept of home remedy. Once trained, the villagers can depend on medicinal plants reared in their own backyard for small ailments instead of rushing to a doctor. We also hope to promote the cultivation and use of endemic species of edible plants,” says E.P.Yesodharan, Executive vice-president, KSCSTE. He added that the programme would be extended to more panchayats in the next phase.

The pilot project launched in 1995 was implemented in four villages including tribal settlements in Thiruvananthapuram.

G. Karthikeyan, MLA, presided over the inaugural function at Vithura. Panchayat president Bindukumari and TBGRI director S. Ganesan were present.