SMPB to commercialise medicinal and aromatic plants

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Gangtok, Dec 21 (UNI) The Sikkim Medicinal Plant Board (SMPB), established about four years back, is preparing a road map for entering an era of conservation, development and commercialisation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP).

''With the instruction and financial assistance of the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB), we have engaged the MAPSCON, a Delhi-based medicinal plant development consultancy, to prepare the future road map of the SMPB,'' SMPB director Bejoy Gurung told UNI.

The salient features of the proposed road map would be to include the medicinal and aromatic plants of the Sikkim Himalayan region in an inventory. It also involved a systematic survey and population study of threatened medicinal plants, Mr Gurung said.

''Another feature in the road map that could have far reaching consequences is a proposal for re-examining the present ban on collection of MAP from forests and allowing selective collection.

Collection of medicinal plants from the wild is banned in Sikkim, which has restricted the growth of the MAP produce. The idea is to make room to allow collection of selected MAP from specified areas,'' the SMPB director said.

Yasa Gumpa (Cordocyeps Sinsus or Catterpillar Fungus), a Himalayan medicinal plant renowned for its aphrodisiac qualities, was named in the regulated collection plan of the road map. It is found in the higher reaches of the Sikkim Himalayan region and is a very expensive medicinal herb.

Study, research and documentation of the indigenous system for management and utilisation of resources had been featured in the road map.

The proposed blue print for MAP revitalisation also included development of marketing linkages, value addition, setting up post-harvest units and training MAP stakeholders. The SMPB had already trained around 600 farmers during its statewide capacity building programme.

''Our popular herbal medicine system is generally considered to be a crude and unhygienic method of healing, thus losing its popularity in the modern times. It needs to be rediscovered and revitalised,'' the SMBP director said.

Till date, 84 farmers had received 30 per cent subsidy from the NMPB for contractual farming in the state for commercially viable medicinal plants, including Aspergaus resemous, Tulsi, Chirato and Kutki. Besides, Rs 167.81 lakh had already been sanctioned to the contractual farmers as 30 per cent NMPB subsidy.


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