Cultivation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Geographical location:

Asia/Pacific > Southern Asia > India

Kunbi tribe member treating another with a medicament made from Calotropis plant. India.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI

Summary

In the last few years the medicinal industry is observing decreasing availability of several medicinal plants facing threats in India. To conserve the medicinal species, states like Uttaranchal have decided to cultivate some of the plants involving local communities.

The present project is an attempt of WWF India to set the pace for and orient people to cultivate medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). 3 species selected for promotion of cultivation are Rauvolfia serpentine (Sarpgandha), Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) and Coleus barbatus (Patharchur) in 3 villages of Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal.

Background

The traditional Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) namely Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani largely depend on plants for resources. 90% of medicinal plants are collected from the wild. Threat status assessments of important medicinal plants by the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), WWF India and other organisations through the Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) process using IUCN criteria have indicated that many of the medicinal plants are under various degrees of threat.

Uttaranchal located in the central Himalaya has been the cradle of evolution of Ayurveda. The State is a treasure house of medicinally and economically important medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), several of which are in threatened, endangered and rare categories.

Uttaranchal has declared itself as herbal state and has prioritised development of medicinal and aromatic plant sector for the socio-economic development of the local people.

Climatic conditions and socio-economic setup in the mountainous part of the state are not suitable for intensive modern agriculture, although cereals and pulses, and some cash crops such as potato, peas, kidney beans, and other vegetables are being cultivated at commercial scale. The returns from these are not lucrative enough to fulfill the growing socio-economic needs of the people.

Uttaranchal provides suitable niche for the cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants. Efforts are being made since the last 5 decades through many governments sponsored schemes like Bhesaj Vikas Yojna (medicinal plant development scheme) under Department of Cooperatives, Herbal Research and Development Institution and Uttaranchal medicinal plant Board to initiate large scale cultivation of medicinal plants and sustainable harvest from the nature. However, the results are still far from satisfactory.

Therefore, the present attempt is to set the pace for and orient people to cultivate MAPs in Uttarkashi district of Uttaranchal. Uttarkashi represents varying topographic and climatic conditions from sub-tropic to alpine. Warm valleys to the high peaks with perpetual snow and glaciers. The district at present comprises of 4 Tehsils and 6 Community Development Blocks. It has 3 towns and 686 villages (678 inhabited villages and 8 uninhabited villages).

Objectives

1. Undertake sustainable development of MAP sector in 3 villages in Uttarkashi District, Uttaranchal.

2. Conduct awareness, motivation and training programme for the local community, village panchayats and self help groups.

3. Train 135 households in cultivation and processing of Raulfia serpentine, Coleus barbatus and Pelargonium graveoleus in around 33.5 ha.

4. Help the local community in conservation of the village resources and income and employment generation activities.

Solution

The project proposes to be implemented in 3 villages, namely Hitadu, Randi (Dhanari) and, Matholi in Dunda Block and Tehsil of Uttarkashi District. The climate is sub-montane. The villages are situated at around 1,000 m altitude.

3 species selected for promotion of cultivation are Rauvolfia serpentine (Sarpgandha), Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) and Coleus barbatus (Patharchur). The species included in the project can be raised in the nursery, planted in the fields and marketed to provide the final result during the project period. The selected species can grow at moderate climate. This in future may result in cultivation of various other species including threatened ones. In the long run the project is going to reduce pressure on forests with availability of MAPs from cultivation.

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