Kerala

Medicinal plants in good demand

There is a huge gap between supply and demand for medicinal plants for manufacturing of Ayurveda medicines in the country and the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) is exploring many ways to augment their cultivation, Tanuja Manoj Nesari, CEO of the NMPB, has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a national seminar on medicinal plants organised by the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI) at the Kerala Forest Research Institute at Peechi on Saturday, she said the market for medicinal plants had been growing in a fast pace.

“Now the market size is ₹4.2 billon. It is estimated that it will be ₹14 billion by 2026. So we have to be equipped for meeting the demand. Some of the raw materials are herbs and shrubs, which can be grown and harvested in a period of one year. But we have to improve cultivation of huge medicinal trees, which will take more than 10 years to get ready for harvesting,” she said.

The NMPB, which comes under the Union Ministry of AYUSH, is doing the conservation, cultivation, research, and development of medicinal plants.

The development of the sector was only possible with two factors, Ms. Nesari noted. “About 80% of the raw materials is collected from forests. Sustainable livelihood management of the entire supply chain — from the tribal people who collect them from the forests to the traders, processors, and the industry — is key to ensuring sufficient supply of raw materials.

“About 20-25% is cultivated by farmers. Sustainable cultivation and harvesting should be promoted. Farmers should be ensured sufficient income to encourage them to cultivate medicinal plants. The NMPB is promoting integrated cultivation. The board is also promoting in situ cultivation and conservation of trees,” she said.

“We should also encourage social forestry methods. Medicinal plants can be grown on the sides of National Highways. The board has also been taking out awareness programmes, especially in educational institutions,” Ms. Nesari added.

The board had a project called ‘20 medicinal plants in each home garden by 2020’, she noted. The objective was to reduce the per capita expense on medicines by utilising the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda, using medicinal plants from our own home garden, Ms. Nesari said.

The country had been importing 10%-15 % of the raw materials such as asafoetida, manjishta, and gulgul, from countries such as Afghanistan.

“There is a huge scope for export of raw materials. But quality, traceability, and organic certification of materials are very important,” she said.

“Cultivation of medicinal plants is mostly unorganised. Proper supply chain management and formation of farmers’ organisations will improve the production. Revenue for farmers has to be ensured with support price for their produce. In Kerala, owing to the recent floods, the Central fund for cultivation of medicinal plants has been diverted for relief works,” she said.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 3:37:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/medicinal-plants-in-good-demand/article30239519.ece

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