Malaria drug plant to boost agro-economy

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Kharagpur, Aug 19: Artemisisin, an anti-malarial drug, will now not only improve health but also enhance the rural economy through value chain improvement.

Talking to the sources, Director of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) S P S Khanuja said, farmers growing the anti-malarial drug plant variety, Artemisia annua, will earn more than Rs 70,000 per hectare in seven months.

'' This crop is easy to cultivate. It can be grown with other food crops thus increasing the earning capacity of the farmers,'' Dr Khanuja said, adding that CIMAP is at present working to find an higher alternative for the drug.

Dr Khanuja, who received the Nina Saxena Excellence in Technology Award here yesterday for the invention of this plant, said this would help eradicate cerebral malaria caused by Plasmodim falciparum.

''I believe Artemisisin will eradicate malaria from the developing world, where over two billion people are affected and one million die every year with this disease,'' he said.

The drug, which was earlier imported from China, is available in most of the pharmacies across the country as Emal.

''Our team has created a super genotype of the Chinese plant through molecular genetics,'' Dr Khanuja said, adding that this is the first genotype drug yielding plant through molecular breeding.

The Artemisisin content of the plant is as high as 1.05 per cent or 15,000 kg.

CIMAP had given licence to seven pharma companies like Themis and ICAP to have agreement with the farmers for assured price cultivation over an area of 2000 acres in North India initially, the director added.

UNI

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