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India’s rich biodiversity is distributed across its ecological regions. Traditional medicinal plants are recognised for their value and they constitute source of livelihood and food security for large Indian population. Cultivation of medicinal plants is also a source of income; thereby improve the standard of living for local communities and reduce poverty. Yet, today Indian medicinal habitat and ecosystem are going through tremendous pressure for meeting the requirement of various pharmaceutical and aroma-chemicals related industries. The objective of this paper is to synthesis the existing information on current status; explore the potential opportunities and constraints in medicinal plant cultivation in India. Based on the documentation of two cases i.e., Bhotiya tribe of Central Himalayan Region and Soliga tribe of Biligiri Ranga-swamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRTTR), an attempt has been made to suggest a framework for harnessing medicinal plant cultivation for promoting food security in India. Finally, SWOT analysis of medicinal plants and food security in India has been presented.
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By 1998, roughly it was estimated that the turnout of Ayurveda industry was Rs. 45 billion (Subrat 2002).
A classical stream of medicine known as ‘Ayurvedha’ system is the one of the ancient and perhaps the oldest (6000 BC) among the organized traditional medicine which was taught in the ancient universities such as Nalanda (ibid).
India caters to 12% of the world’s medicinal plant requirements.
India’s ancient Rig Veda which dates back to 4800 and 1600 BC is the earliest record on the use of tree, shrub, herb and grass combinations for curing ailments (Lambert et al. 1997).
Please refer ( http://nmpb.nic.in/) for more details on Indian Medicinal Plants.
50% of them i.e., 8000 are inventoried as consisting medicinal value (Subrat 2002).
According to ‘All India Coordinated Research Project on Ethnobiology (AICRPE) during the last decade recorded over 8000 species of wild plants used by the tribals and other traditional communities in India for treating various health problems’. Accessed from: ( http://www.indiahomeclub.com/botanical_garden/endangered_medicinal_plants_in_india.html).
Classical medicine such as ‘Ayurveda’ can be found in philosophical texts such as ‘Charka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Bhela Samhita (Planning Commission 2000).
These are expressions of codified medicine system in India (Dhar et al. 2000).
India has a rich protected area network comprising of 8 designated biosphere, 87 national parks, 447 wild life sanctuaries, 140 botanical gardens encompassing rich biotic diversity including medicinal and aromatic plants (ibid).
Himalayan region consisting of Himachal Pradesh is endowed with 3000 plant species with 500 have medicinal properties. Similarly, Arunachalpradesh consists of more than 500 species (CUTS 2004). The region of Himalayas constitutes 18% of the total geographical area of India, spanning 12 states in India. The region is endowed with Himalayan Biosphere Reserve (Nanda Devi), four National Parks and six Sanctuaries (Nautiyal et al. 2005). As per the Exim Bank report (2003), nearly 18% of traded medicinal plants of India and 350 out of 960 mostly used species is from the Himalayan region (Banerji and Basu 2011).
Northeastern region comprised of eight Indian states covering an area of 2,62,060 km 2 representing 8% of the Indian total geographical area (Uniyal 2015).
May 22, 2004 is declared as ‘International Day for Biological Diversity. UN Secretary General message on May 22, 2004 states that ‘“Biodiversity: Food, water and Health for All” which “underlines biodiversity’s importance in ensuring food security and … in protecting wide array of traditional medicines … based on world’s biological riches”.
Traditional Health Care constitutes two systems namely folk medicine and codified system of medicine (Dhar et al. 2000).
Such stream of inherited traditions is known as Local Health Traditions (LHT) (Planning Commission 2000).
70% of share in the formal medicine market is shared by Ayurveda drugs. By 2002, there were about 6000 licensed units and equal number of unlicensed units working on Ayurveda drugs (Subrat 2002).
Development projects like expansion of roads, creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), intense mining activities, housing projects etc.
Refer UNDP’s ‘Conserving Medicinal Plants, Sustaining Livelihoods’ Accesses from ( http://www.in.undp.org/content/india/en/home/ourwork/environmentandenergy/successstories/conserving-medicinal-plants-sustaining-livelihoods.html).
For instance 10 out of the world leading 25 top-selling drugs are derived from natural sources in 1997. Similarly, it is estimated that annually the global market value of Pharmaceuticals derived from genetic resources to be US$ 75,000–150,000 million. In India, 226 medicinal plants species are used by the Pharmaceutical Industries (Rao and Arora 2004).
Nearly 359 medicinal species used in Ayurveda fall under endangered category (Majeed 2015).
Rich medicinal plant biodiversity includes (i) Himachal Pradesh (Himalayas) producing and supplying 80% of Ayurvedic medicines, Western Ghats one of the mega-biodiversity of ‘hotspots’, tropical forest of Vindhyas, Chhotanagpur plateau and Aravalis (Subrat 2002).
There are about 4,60,000 registered practitioners using medicinal plants and 851 homeopathy treatment centres (Planning Commission 2000).
In India, there are over 8000 licensed Ayurveda pharmacies out of which 30% are located in the state of Uttarpradesh alone (Subrat 2002).
Refer UNDP’s work on ‘Conserving Medicinal Plants, Sustaining Livelihoods’ Accessed from ( http://www.in.undp.org/content/india/en/home/ourwork/environmentandenergy/successstories/conserving-medicinal-plants-sustaining-livelihoods.html).
For medicinal purpose oral traditions of villagers use about 5000 plants and 8000 species by tribal’s and traditional healers (Planning Commission 2000).
In Uttaranchal alone about 701 species are used as medicines (Dhar et al. 2000).
Bhotia, Rajees, Tharus and Boxas are the tribal community live in the state of Uttaranchal (Dhar et al. 2000).
Some of the ideas for Value Chain analysis approach has been inspired by the study of Belt et al. ( 2003).
Please visit the link for more information: http://envis.frlht.org/.
Himachal Pradesh with a geographical area of 55,673 km 2 (about 1.7% of the country’s geographical area) is richly endowed with more than 3500 species of medicinal and aromatic plants out which 800 species are used within and outside the state (DMAPR 2011).
As per the inventory of medicinal plant database created by FRLHT, Bangalore, the state of Karnataka is endowed with 1838 varieties of medicinal plant species particularly in Western and Easternghats. Similarly, in Tamilnadu-1840, Kerala-2052, Chattisgarh-more than 2000, Orissa-more than 1500, Rajasthan-more than 500, West Bengal-2800, Sikkim-1681, Available at ( http://envis.frlht.org/checklist/karna.pdf).
List of growers from National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB).
Eight states forming North-eastern region is richly endowed with flora and fauna. Each state has its own forest coverage which is above national average of 21.05% (Haridasan 2015).
The Northeast region has secured its place as one of the 25 hot spots of mega diversity with rich medicinal plant species and endemism (Majeed 2015).
At least 40 threatened or endangered species constitute Germany’s imports (Lambert et al. 1997).
For instance, cultivation of kuth (Sassurea costus) and Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia servpentina) fetched between Rs. 14,000 and Rs. 45,000 per hectare respectively. And farmers are expected to earn Rs. 31,000 per hectre (CUTS 2004).
For instance, less than 20 out of estimated 800 species are commercially cultivated discouraging due to long gestation period (Banerji and Basu 2011).
There are about 6 major, 21 medium and 37 minor medicinal plant markets spread across India. Major exports takes place in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorin. There are about 25 companies in private sector engaged in nursery, generation, development of agricultural techniques and farmers to cultivate medicinal plants (Subrat 2002).
Germany is the largest importer of medicinal plants (Lambert et al. 1997).
Access the link for more details ( http://www.agricultureinformation.com/forums/general-questions-answers/34618-cultivation-medicinal-plants-india-government-support.html).
Major players in Indian Ayurveda industry include Dabur, Baidyanath, Himalaya Drugs and Zandu Pharmaceuticals, Ajanta Pharmaceuticals.
Access the link for more details ( http://www.niir.org/projects/projects/highly-demandable-herbs-medicinal-plants/z,,2b,0,64/index.html).
Studies point out that huge volume of illegal medicinal trade does account the total volume of export (Subrat 2002).
From National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB). Refer ( http://nmpb.nic.in/).
National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) (2012). Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Mission on Medicinal Plants: Operational Guidelines. Access from: (nmpb.nic.in/…/7848115600Proposed%20Centrally%20Sponsored%20Sc).
A BRT Wildlife Sanctuary area spreads over 574.82 km 2 and is located between 77°–77° 16° E and 11° 47°–12°09° N. The BRT wildlife sanctuary has a diversity of forests from scrub forest, deciduous, moist deciduous forest, semi evergreen, ever green, shola and grass land. The BRT Wildlife Sanctuary is rich in flora and fauna. The BRT Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as a Tiger Reserve in 2011 (Madegowda and Rao 2014).
The tribal community households of BRTTR region are known as ‘Podu’ in their regional language (Nautiyal et al. 2015).
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- Medicinal Plant Biodiversity in India: Harnessing Opportunities for Promoting Livelihood and Food Security
K. C. Smitha