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WB praises Assam, MP for tapping medicinal plants

By Staff
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New Delhi, Apr 6 (UNI) The efforts of Madhya Pradesh and Assam in marketing medicinal plants have come in for praise by the World Bank in its latest report on the potential of the country's forests to generate income.

However, the report also said that the country's natural resources were not being fully exploited.

India's share in the global medicinal plants export market of 62 billion US dollars is just 0.52 whereas it is boasts of having 15000 species of such plants, which means this natural wealth was not being tapped properly, the Report said.

The market structure for medicinal plant and aromatic oils in most states of the country is weak and focusses largely on local trading, it said.

However, Madhya Pradesh and Assam have made substantial progress in developing a better market system for medicinal plants.

In MP, the State Minor Forest Produce (Tradibng and Development) Cooperative Federation assists primary collection societies in selling non-nationalised and non-timber products by offering fixed purchasing rates for a small selection of plants with market potential, including aonla, mahul patta, mahua seeds and achar.

Over time, both collector prices and the range of non-timber products have gradually improved, the Report said.

The federation is initiating a number of measures to enhance market access and incomes. It is financing the development of specific areas for non-timber production in 10 districts, facilitating commercial financing for farmers to cultivate non-timber products, establishing local market outlets and branding, promoting local value addition and disseminating market related information to farmers.

Similarly, Assam had success with patchouli, a perennial herbaceou plant of Laiaceae family. The dry leaves of the plant can be distilled to yield aromatic oil used in perfumes, medicine, and processed food.

Worldwide consumption of patchouli is about 2000 metric tonnees annunally. In India consumption of patchouli oil has reached 300 metric tonnes a year, 290 metric tonnes of which is imported.

A strong partnership between the state and the private sector has been developed to plan and startegically develop patchouli production and marketing in Assam.

The Northeastern Development Finance Corporation(NEDFI) is financing start-up capital for small farmers to cultivate patchouli and help growers market their produce.

The corporation has also its own research facility. The forest department provides limited research on silvi culture, and a local community support organisation works with farmers to build capacities.

Plans are already underway to work with communities in non-timber forest products with high market potential.

UNI NAZ RR PC1500

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