Jeevani to fetch benefits for Kani tribe

Community leaders and researchers from Africa, Germany and the U.S. interact with Kani tribal leaders at the Chonampara settlement in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday. —Photo: S. Mahinsha  

he Forest Department is set to join hands with the Kani tribal community, a premier research institute and a public sector company manufacturing Ayurvedic products, in a unique benefit sharing partnership to revive the commercial production of a herbal drug derived from an endangered medicinal plant confined to a few pockets in the Western Ghats.

Developed by scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) using the traditional knowledge of the Kanis, the compound drug named Jeevani is known for its immunity-enhancing, liver-protective, anti-fatigue, and DNA-protective properties. The basic ingredient in the drug is Tricopus zeylanicus ssp Travancoricus , also known as Arogyapacha.

The project involves backward linkage with the tribal people to ensure a steady supply of raw material for Oushadhi, the Thrissur-based manufacturer.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests K.J. Varughese told The Hindu that the tribals would be supported by the Forest Department to take up commercial cultivation of the plant using sustainable methods. The participatory model, Mr. Varughese explained, would help to avoid disruption of supplies, a problem that had dogged the previous manufacturer of Jeevani.

A four-party agreement between Oushadhi, JNTBGRI, Forest Development Agency and Kerala Kani Welfare Trust is expected to be signed shortly. The first lot of harvested leaves was handed over to Oushadhi at Kottoor near here on Thursday. The royalty from the annual turnover on sales of Jeevani will be shared between the JNTBGRI and the Kani Trust.

It was in 1995 that the JNTBGRI entered into a technology transfer pact with the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP), Coimbatore, for manufacture of Jeevani. It also evolved a mechanism to share 50 per cent of the commercial benefits with the Kani tribe.

The AVP withdrew from the project in 2008 after encountering a series of problems relating to raw material procurement. The Kerala Kani Welfare Trust set up to manage the funds ran into allegations of financial mismanagement and differences emerged over the sharing of benefits among the community members.

The four-party agreement is expected to address the shortcomings, says S. Rajasekharan, former head, Division of Ethnomedicine, JNTBGRI, who was involved in the development of Jeevani.

“The fact that the project is still relevant 20 years after it took off demonstrates its enduring value as a global model of access and benefit sharing.”

royalty from the annual turnover on sales of Jeevani will be shared between the JNTBGRI and the Kani Trust.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 12:33:15 PM |

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