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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Enhancing Medicinal Plant Resources



In the earlier post I have mentioned about a Brain storming session recently held on the Status of Medicinal Plants at Tamil Nadu Forest Training Academy. (19th June2015). The Decision makers and almost all senior officials of TN Forest Department, Industry representatives, Forest Academy, College, Research institutes and few farmer Association office bearers took part.
Most forest officers were of the view that conservation is the priority and no harvesting should be allowed. Some even felt that No data is available on the inventory of species available in Tamil Nadu forest. Researchers were for prioritizing identification of Genetic variability.  Many expressed that the entire herbal trade is non transparent and traders and industry plunder nations wealth. 
Cultivators expressed the views that Seeds, Technology and appropriate marketing mechanism is not there.
Industries were saying they find no shortage of any crude drug and added it is wrong to say  that there is no transparency as most companies go by open tender process, some with forward contracts with gatherers and growers. The need for storage godowns  was also expressed. The general perception was, Medicinal plant sector is unorganized and with no institutional mechanism in place for Certification and provision of authentic herbal raw material
On my part I raised the following on behalf  CTMR
1.       My concern on the absence of The Commissioner of Indian medicine who is responsible for procurement of medicine for all 1800 GH/PHC/ ISM Hospitals and Colleges – The largest user of Medicinal plants in the meeting and the absence of State Medicinal plant board representative and the horticultural Dept who promotes home gardens and sanctions subsidy for plant growers.
2.       The Revival of the now neglected Medicinal Plants Development Areas created in 2000-2002 across the state and non –utilization of the Resource created.
3.       Proper monitoring of The  AYUSH Cluster which was funded by Ministry of AYUSH with the mandate to act as a herbal crude drug bank and common facility for testing and manufacture by smaller units. This is yet to take off.
4.       The possibility of providing saplings for Home herbal garden by the Forest extension centres/ forest nurseries and 56 research units functioning in the state – Integrating with Organic terrace garden project of Horticulture Dept.
5.       Promotion of 20 important medicinal Trees (50 nos each species)in the campus of all educational institutes particularly 550 engineering colleges- Higher Education secretary to send a guideline through Anna University to the colleges and Director of College education. Similarly Sipcot INDUSTRIAL PARKS and others could grow as Avenue and hedge tress. Forest Extension centres to  encourage Village Forest Committees to grow and sell saplings for the Institutes. This will not only augument medicinal plant resource but improve livelihood of Marginalized forest dependant communities.
6.       Forest Dept to encourage NABARD to fund for Rural Godowns which could act as grading and storage centers for gathers and growers and certified clean authentic material will be made available to ISM Industry at affordable cost and farmers will be saved from distress selling due to lack of storage space.

I hope ‘ Amma’ Home Herbal Garden kit will be available at the earliest with 7 most important medicinal plants useful as home remedy.