‘Medicinal plants key for development of India’s farm sector’

It is widely accepted that medicinal plants are critical and strategic because medicines are key to maintaining a healthy population that drives and sustains the economy. However, the immense value addition that medicinal plants can bring about to the farm sector, even to small and marginal farmers, is often overlooked, Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for AYUSH, said.

He was addressing an e-event organised by the National Medicinal Plant Board (NPBM) to celebrate two decades of existence.

“…NPMB has been working relentlessly for growth and development of the medicinal plant sector in the country. The Central Sector Scheme for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants are some of the schemes promoted by the board,” Naik noted.

A “Status Report of NMPB 2020” and “Ayur-veg” e-book were released on the occasion. The AYUSH Minister, Secretary (AYUSH) Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha and other members of the Board complemented NMPB for its progress, achievements and contribution made for growth and development of medicinal plants sector in the country.

In recent years cultivation of medicinal plants has started gaining momentum. However, still a significant part of our requirements continue to be met from wild sources. To meet increasing demand for medicinal plants, the NMPB focuses on in-situ & ex-situ conservation and augmenting local medicinal plants and aromatic species of medical significance. The NMPB promotes research & development, capacity building through training, raising awareness through promotional activities like creation of Home/School herbal gardens.

NMPB’s main objective is the development of medicinal plants sector through developing a strong coordination between the stakeholders i.e., farmers, traders, and manufacturers benefiting each of them. The endeavor would increase the income and livelihood of the farmers and tribes. It would facilitate backward integration with the industry/ manufacturers through post-harvest management. Introduction of new IT tools and market linking activities further help the farmers as well as the industry.

It was on 24th November 2000 that the then Department of AYUSH joined hands with the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Biotechnology and Department of Agricultural Research and Education to form the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB). The Board, today, is an integral unit of the Ministry of AYUSH with the aforesaid Ministries and Departments offering consultations and support, and it exercises oversight on medicinal plants sector.

The voluntary Certification Scheme for Medicinal Plants Production (VCSMPP) has been an important achievement of NMPB. The scheme, designed with the support of the Quality Council of India, encourages good practices among farmers in the matter of cultivation, field collection and maintaining quality of the medicinal plants products. This certification is, in many ways, a form of quality assurance, and it has resulted in easy marketing and export of medicinal plants products.

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