Steps taken to farming conservation, processing and promotion of medicinal plants

India is currently having 8000 medicinal plants species according to the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). The BSI mandated for survey of plant diversity of the country; its documentation, including traditional knowledge associated with it at National, Regional, State and Ecosystem level and its conservation in different parts of the country has been carrying out survey and documentation of all plant resources of the country including medicinal / aromatic plants and herbs. The survey is the nodal repository for Reference Plant Collections and at present houses about 3.2 million specimens in its different herbaria, which help in taxonomic characterization and monitoring of species, including medicinal plants. Details of medicinal plants found in the country is given below:

S.No. Region No. of Medicinal plants species
Western Himalaya 1500
Eastern Himalaya 3000
Western Ghats 2000
Eastern Ghats including Andaman & Nicobar Islands 1500
  TOTAL 8000

 

As per data available in different sources, there are more than 2800 species of medicinal plants used in different traditional systems of Indian Medicine. Through the ex-situ conservation, BSI conserves medicinal plants in its botanical gardens, located in different phyto-geographical regions of the country. National Medicinal plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India is implementing Central Sector Scheme on “Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants” wherein following activities are supported:

  1. In-situ conservation / Ex-situ conservation.
  2. Livelihood linkages with Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) / Panchayats / Van Panchayats / Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) / Self Help Groups (SHGs).
  3. IEC activities like Training / Workshops / Seminars/ Conferences etc.
  4. Research & Development.
  5. Promotion, marketing and trade of medicinal plants produce.

Till date, NMPB, Ministry of Ayush has supported 20589.45 hectare area under 105 Medicinal Plants Conservation and Development Areas (MPCDAs). The NMPB, Ministry of AYUSH, under its Central Sector Scheme has provided projects based financial support on collection, identification, and characterization of various medicinal plants. Till date, NMPB has supported 10 projects during last five years.

However, in the past, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India under medicinal plants component of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Ayush Mission (NAM) had provided financial assistance in form of subsidy to promote and encourage the farmers for cultivation / farming of medicinal plants throughout the country from the F.Y. 2015-16 to 2020-21.The cultivation activities were implemented through the identified implementing agency of concerned state as per the State Annual Action Plan approved for concerned State. Under the same scheme, 140 medicinal plants species have been prioritized for supporting cultivation throughout the country. The scheme was implemented from the F.Y. 2015-16 to 2020-21 through State Implementing Agency.

Till date, Ministry of Ayush had supported 56,305 hectare areafor cultivation of medicinal plants throughout the country from the financial year 2015-16 to 2020-21 under National Ayush Mission (NAM) scheme.

Under the medicinal plants component of NAM scheme, there is a provision to support semi processing (small processing unit) / processing units and Ministry of Ayush had supported 25 semi processing (small processing unit) / processing unit throughout the country from the financial year 2015-16 to 2020-21.

Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Govt. of India, formulates policies for protection of forests. Legislations, such as the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, to accord protection of forests and their components, including medicinal plants. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and Rules (2004), regulates the access to forest components, including medicinal plants. MoEF&CC has shortlisted the extinction prone species state-wise, formulated the guidelines to prohibit or regulate their collection from wild and has circulated it to different states and union territories for notification in terms of section 38 of Biological Diversity Act 2002. Further, it is also supporting a number of projects on conservation of some specific medicinal plants as well as Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs) that are primarily forested areas.

Cultivation of medicinal plants in degraded forest lands is supported through schemes of the National Afforestation & Eco-development Board (NAEB), MoEF&CC. Many threatened species are conserved in Botanical Gardens associated with BSI and gardens associated with different universities/colleges under ‘Assistance to Botanic Gardens’ Scheme of MoEF&CC. The threatened species of plants are being conserved by adopting both strategies viz. in-situ conservation (i.e. in their own habitat) and ex-situ conservation following conventional as well as modern techniques (tissue culture).

This information was given by Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.

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