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  • NMPB: On Mission Mode to Promote Medicinal Plants

    Published on September 19, 2020

    Photos by Suresh Unnithan (Source pninews.com)

    “Mother Earth’s medicine chest is full of healing herbs of incomparable worth…”  These are the words of Robin Rose Bennet, a devout herbalist of international repute from US about medicinal plants.

    In fact, the knowledge of medicinal plants dates back to the Vedic period. In the sacred scriptures Rigveda and Atharvaveda, believed to be written at least 10, 000 years ago, have details of the history of plants and its uses to humans and even animals.,

    The Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda, Rigveda and Atharvaveda trace the history of plants and its uses. As a learned environmentalist says “We can call the plants by any name … the life givers, the life nurturers, the healers, the miracle workers, the mind soothers, the beautifiers but we all agree that they play a very important role in the entire life cycle of all the living beings on this Earth whether animals, birds or humans.”

     In fact, the use of medicinal plant resources for curing human ailments dates back to the evolution of human civilization. As Ms. Benet said Mother Earth has with her countless varieties of quality medicinal plants with medicinal property.  A scientific study conducted few years back have identified over  4, 22,000 flowering plant species out of which more than 50,000 are  of medicinal use.

    According to the World Health Organization, 80% of the world population depends on herbal medicines for primary health care. The herbal drugs are believed to have no side-effects, cheap, and locally available.  The use of medicinal plants for healing was well described in the Syrian Classic written over 5000 years ago. Apart from the Vedas, ancient treatment texts such as Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita describe the healing properties of medicinal plants.

    As per statistics, over 20,000 plants are identified in our countries of which about 7000–7500 are classified as medicinal flora.  The therapeutic values of these medicinal plants are described in details in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and Homeopathy. 

    With the improved awareness on the traditional medical system like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and Homeopathy, demand for medicinal plants is up. As of now about 960 species of medicinal plants are in trade. The global market value of medicinal plant products exceeds $100 billion per annum. These medicinal plants not only constitute a major resource base for the traditional medicine and herbal industry but also provide livelihood and health security to a large section of Indian population. 

    Hence the relevance of the advice of our great Gurus, that the medicinal plants “should be produced, protected and donated to the society.

    This organisation, National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), has taken up production protection and preservation of medicinal plants as its Mission.

    NMPB was established by Government of India to promote and propagate medicinal plant cultivation. The Board is also assigned to coordinating matters relating to Medicinal Plants and Support Policies and Programs for growth of trade and export.  NMPB is working under AYUSH (Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, and Siddha & Homeopathy)     

    Here is a detailed article on various schemes related to “National Mission on Medicinal Plants” , jointly authored by Dr. JLN Sastry, CEO, and Dr Kavita Tyagi Senior Consultants .(NAM) & DR R Murugeshwaran DD(MPs)

    NMPB Schemes for Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants

    Ministry of AYUSH has been implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of “National Mission on Medicinal Plants” since 2008. The scheme has been merged with National AYUSH Mission (NAM) as Medicinal Plants Component since 2015-16. The main objectives to the scheme is to  the supporting cultivation and marketing of prioritized medicinal plants in identified cluster/zones with in selected region of States and implemented in a mission mode through growers, farmers, cultivators, Growers Associations, Federations, Self Help Groups, Corporate and Growers Co-operatives through synergistic linkage with production and supply of quality planting material, processing, quality testing, certification, warehousing and marketing to fulfill the demands of the AYUSH industry and for exports of value added items. Under this scheme financial support is provided for nursery, cultivation, post-harvest management, processing, value addition and management support. Development and cultivation of medicinal plants under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission the Central Government contribution will be 90:10 in the North East and hill states while The Central and State Government contribution will be 60:40 for the remaining states.

    The demand of herbal raw-drugs in the country increased from 3.17 Lakh MTs to 5.12 Lakh MTs between 2005-06 and 2014-15 (62% increase over 9 years). It is expected to reach 6.50 Lakh MTs by 2020. The overall growth of herbal sector shall remain more than 10% per annum mainly because of herbal-based wellness industry and renewed growing interest in Indian Systems of Medicines.  Due to increasing demand of wellness products, exports of herbal raw drugs have potential of 20% growth per annum in coming years. Major drivers of cultivation are herbal-extracts making units. To coordinate all matters related to Medicinal plants, Government of India has set up National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) on 24thNovember 2000.

    The Scheme is being implemented through implementing agencies identified in States/ UTs (generally State Agriculture / Horticulture Departments / State Medicinal Plants Boards).  As per the scheme guidelines, State Governments were given freedom to select State Government organization as SMPB – an implementing agency in the State for implementation of Medicinal Plants component through farmers, SHG, private sectors. The Financial assistance is provided as per the State Annual Action Plan approved for concerned State. As per scheme guidelines, the financial assistance to North Eastern and hilly State of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir is provided on the ratio of 90:10, where as in other states it is shared in the ratio of 60:40 between Central and State Government.

    Support the cultivation of Medicinal plants on farmers land: Currently, NMPB is providing assistance to farmers / growers for cultivation of identified medicinal plants species in the form of subsidy in graded pattern depending upon the cost of cultivation. Presently, NMPB have the 142 medicinal plants in its prioritized out of which the cost norms are available only for 95 species of medicinal plants which are provided under subsidy as per their cost norm/hectare.  These cost norms were developed by the different organizations.  As per existing operational guidelines, subsidy @ 30%, 50% and 75% of cost of cultivation is admissible for specific plant species per hectare.  In the last twenty years, the NMPB has supported 2.52 lac ha Cultivation of Medicinal Plants covering 85 species; developed 108 Medicinal Plant Conservation and Development Areas (MPCDAs); sponsored 371 Research & Development (R&D) projects; prioritized 142 species for cultivation; developed agro-techniques for 104 medicinal plants; and supported establishment of 20,572 herbal gardens. The activities are accessible through e-Bhuvan portal and marketing of herbal raw material is mediated through e-Charak portal. Till date, NMPB has supported an area of 48375 hectare under cultivation of Medicinal plants. As per   the guidelines the list of 95 medicinal plants is given below.

    Botanical NameCommon NameCost per ha.
     for the FY 2019-20
    PLANTS ELIGIBLE FOR 30% SUBSIDY 
    Abrus precatorius L.Chirmati, Chinnoti, Gudumani80336.99
    Acorus calamus L.Vach109393.89
    Adhatoda zeylanica MEDIKAdusa31154.66
    Aloe vera (L.)Burn.Ghritkumari74387.85
    Alpinia calcarata RoscoeSmaller Galangal99065.66
    Alpinia galangal Alpinia (L.)Greater Galanga85446.57
    Andrographis paniculata (L.) BurnKalmegh43757.55
    Artemisia annua (L.)Artemisia58269.87
    Asparagus racemosus Willd.Shatavari109393.89
    Azadirachta indica A. JussNeem65636.34
    Bacopa monnieri (L.) PennellBrahmi70012.09
    Bergenia ciliata Stern.Pashnabheda119769.13
    Boerhaavia diffusa L.Punarnava52509.06
    Cassia angustifolia Vahl.Senna43757.55
    Caesalpinia sappan L.Patang93727.95
    Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. DonSadabahar43757.55
    Celastrus paniculatus (Willd.)Malkangani, Jyothismathi,38853.82
    Centella asiatica (L.)UrbanMandookparni70012.09
    Chlorophytum borivillianum Sant.Shwet Musali546969.46
    Cinnamomum verum PreslDalchini,135648.43
    C. tamala  Nees et Eberm.Tejpat,77761.87
    Clerodendrum phlomoidis L.fArni56270.04
    Clitoria ternatea L.Aparajita56270.04
    Coleus barbatus Benth.Syn. Coleus forskholii Briq.Pather Chur75262.99
    Convolvulus microphyllus ChoisyShankhpushpi58269.87
    Cryptolepis buchanani Roem & schultKrsna sariva74489.10
    Dioscorea bulbifera L.Rotalu, Gethi109393.89
    Eclipta alba Hassk.Bringaraj,42180.83
    Embelia ribes Burm. f.Vai Vidang74387.84
    Emblica officinalis Gaertn.Amla113769.65
    Garcinia indica ChoisyKokum109393.89
    Gymnema sylvestre R. Br.Gudmar43757.55
    Hedychium spicatum Buch-Ham.ex SmuthKapur kachari70012.09
    Hemidesmus indicus R.Br.Anantmool,61260.57
    Holarrhena antidysenterica Wall.Kurchi/Kutaj32203.39
    Ipomoea turpethum R. Br.Trivrit46643.38
    Kaempferia galangal L.Indian crocus79812.33
    Lepidum sativum L.Chandrasur43055.98
    Mucuna prurita L.Konch35006.04
    Ocimum sanctum L.Tulsi52509.06
    Phyllanthus amarus Schum & Thonn.Bhumi amlaki48133.31
    Piper longum L.Pippali109393.89
    Plantago ovata ForskIsabgol42180.83
    Psoralea corylifolia L.Bakuchi26254.53
    Rubia cordifolia L.Manjishtha175030.22
    Sida cordifolia LinnFlannel weed42007.25
    Solanum anguivi L.Katheli-badhi4252.80
    Solanum nigrum L.Makoy43757.55
    Stevia rebaudiana (BertoniMadhukari165770.00
    Tephrosia purpurea PersPawad, Dhamasia,43406.77
    Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) Wt. & Arn.Arjuna78763.60
    Terminalia bellirica Gaertn.Behera70012.09
    Terminalia chebula Retz.Harad70012.09
    Tinospora cordifolia MiersGiloe48133.31
    Vitex negundo LNirgundi43757.55
    Withania somnifera (L.) DunalAshwagandha43757.55
    Plants eligible for 50% subsidy 
    Acacia catechu Willd.Katha31154.65
    Aegle marmelos (L.)Corr.Beal70012.09
    Albizzia lebbeck Benth.Shirish65636.33
    Alstonia scholaris R.Br.Satvin, Saptaparna58371.13
    Atropa belladonna  L.Atropa109393.89
    Crataeva nurvala Buch – Ham.Varun31154.65
    Desmodium gangeticum (L.)DC.Sarivan78763.60
    Gloriosa superba L.Kalihari240666.56
    Glycyrrhiza glabra L.Mulethi175030.22
    Gmelina arborea L.Gambhari78763.60
    Hippophae rhamnoides L.Seabuckthorn87515.11
    Inula racemosa Hk. f.Pushkarmool66160.70
    Leptadenia reticulata (Retz) Wt. & Arn.Jivanti109393.89
    Mesua ferrea L.Nagakeshar31154.65
    Plumbago zeylanica L.Chitrak52509.06
    Pueraria tuberosa DC.Vidarikand87515.11
    Premna integrifolia L.Agnimanth43757.55
    Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.Beejasar96332.62
    Rauwolfia serpentina Benth. ex KurzSarpgandha109393.89
    Rheum  emodi L. Archa354436.20
    Saraca asoca (Roxb.) De WildeAshok109393.89
    Smilax china L.Madhu snuhi87515.11
    Stereospermum suaveolens DC.Patala32203.39
    Tacomella undulate (Sm.)Seem.Rohitak31154.65
    Urarea picta (Jacq.)Desv.Prishnaparni72637.54
    Valeriana wallichii. DCIndian Valerian105018.13
    Zanthoxylum alatumTimoor52509.06
    Plants eligible for 75% subsidy
    Aconitum ferox Wall./A. balfouriVatsnabh140772.75
    Aconitum heterophyllum Wall. ex RoyleAtees192533.24
    Aquilaria agallocha Roxb.Agar58371.13
    Berberis aristata DC.Daruhaldi109393.89
    Commiphora wightii (Arn.) BhandariGuggal280048.36
    Nardostachys jatamansi DC.Jatamansi354436.20
    Oroxylum indicum Vent.Syonaka78763.60
    Picrorhiza kurroa Benth. ex RoyleKutki196909.00
    Podophyllum hexandrum Royle.Bankakri,175030.22
    Pterocarpus santalinus (Linn. f.)Raktachandan,98892.07
    Santalum album L.Chandan85236.82
    Saussurea costus C.B. ClarkeKuth, Kustha153151.44
    Swertia chirata Buch-HamChirata, Charayatah144399.94

    Establishment of Seed / germ plasm Centers and nurseries for Supply of  Quality Planting Material:

    Cultivation of medicinal plants and eventual returns from such cultivation is largely dependent upon the quality of planting material used. Under the scheme Ministry of AYUSH has supported Seed in Research Wing of State Forest Departments/Research Organisations/State Agriculture Universities to stock and supply certified germplasm of priority medicinal plant species for cultivation. Production and supply of seeds and quality planting material through NGOs and Corporates will also be permitted provided the quality can be certified through an accredited certification agency.

    Support for Medicinal Plant Processing and Post Harvest Management including Marketing: It is estimated that as high as 30% of the raw material reaching the manufacturers is of poor quality and is, therefore, rejected. Cultivation of medicinal plants, therefore, needs to be supported with infrastructure for ware housing, drying, grading, storage and transportation. These facilities are essential for increasing the marketability of the medicinal plants, adding value to the produce, increasing profitability and reducing losses.  Under the Scheme, ministry of AYUSH is supporting infrastructure for processing and post harvest management in the different regions of the country. The  following facilities to be created in the post-harvesting infrastructure is as follows:

    a. Drying yards: Drying yards to accomplish the primary task of drying the products in hygienic conditions. In addition, cleaning and grading infrastructure is an essential activity to be linked to drying to increase the shelf life and the market price of herbs. Since herbs have to be dried in shades, drying yards with shade net provision or facilities for low temperature drying will have to be created.

    b. Storage godowns:  The storage godowns is expected to receive produce from nearby drying yards. The storage godowns are a link between drying yards and processing units. Storage godowns have to be adequately ventilated and set up at strategic locations. The storage godowns and drying yards have to be located in such a manner that they are not very far from the farm lands and cater to the identified clusters of cultivation.

    c. Processing unit: Processing unit based on the medicinal plants grown in the clusters would have to be set up, some of which will be plant specific. The processing unit should preferably be set up within the existing industrial estates, which have the necessary infrastructure of power, road network and linkages with rail head/sea ports.

    Conclusion

    There is approximately 6% increase in the volume of raw material and approximately 20% increase in the value of raw material on a year to year basis in the last 10 years.

    There is great scope of medicinal plants sector in India to create and support sustainable livelihood systems. The global acceptance of Ayurveda and Unani and their accelerated domestic growth has made it a sun-rise sector.  The adoption of market oriented strategy, formulation and implementation of comprehensive action plans, incorporating sustainable collection and cultivation along with network of  In-situ and Ex-situ Conservation Centres shall go long way in creating enormous viable employment opportunities and boost the sector to tap its potentiality for the country.

    In future, the Cultivation of selected high value medicinal plants species will provide regular technical support to farmers for to ensure their handholding and adoption of latest technology with Good Agricultural Practices /Good Collection Practices. It would also help gradually reduce the supply from wild sources by replacing it with supply from clusters to ensure conservation of natural bio-resources.

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