Himachal Pradesh a natural habitat for a large variety of medicinal and aromatic plants, like any other mountain region, is a vast repository of plant Eco-system. Himachal Pradesh a store house of bio-logical wealth and there is a vast potential for cultivation of herbs particularly the medicinal and aromatic plants in the state. Medicinal Plants have been a major source of cure of human diseases since time immemorial. Todayâ€™s one fourth of the world population depends on traditional medicines. Despite the introduction of anti-biotics since 1940â€™s, even 80 % of the population today relies on indigenous medicine plants and the drugs.
According to different estimates, the flora of H.P. consists nearly 3300 species of plants. Of these, about 150 species ( including few exotic) are considered to have medicinal value. About 35 plant products of medicinal value are regularly extracted from the forest and marketed annually. Different ecological zones support an unique assemblage of medicinal herbs in the State. Realizing the urgency and need, the State Government in collaboration with the Government of India has launched a number of schemes in the state to improve the economic and social standard of the people through propagation and cultivation of medicinal herbs. Planting material is also being given to the farmers by the Departmental Herbal Gardens.
The State Government has also decided to take up the activity of the development of medicinal plants as one of the major activity. Research Institute at Joginder Nagar has been entrusted with the work. The Ayurveda Department has been able to enhance activity throughout the State and now it is working to provide the knowledge to the different stakeholders. The Government of India has also providing time to time financial assistance for strengthening this activity. The State Medicinal Plants Board in H.P. has been set up with a view to organize the medicinal plants sector and to provide a platform for the different stakeholders in the field. The Board is also assisting the farmers for formulation of the projects on cultivation of medicinal plants. In the last three years, the State Medicinal Plants Board has recommended a number of projects on the medicinal plants cultivation for funding to the National Medicinal Plants Board. Emphasis has also being laid that a mechanism for the marketing to the utilization of the produce be developed well in advance so that the farmers may get good prices for their produce.
As per the survey of world Health Organization (WHO), about 80 % of the population of developing countries still relies on traditional herbal drugs for fulfilling its primary health care needs. The Herbal Garden at Joginder Nagar and departments Ayurvedic Pharmacies alongwith the Drug Testing Lab are rated as best facility in the country. Infact pharmacy at Joginder Nagar & Drug Testing Lab is also providing service to the adjoining states. Recently the demand for medicinal as well as aromatic plants has increased manifold both in developed as well as the developing countries are to the fact that herbal drugs being a natural product having no side effects are easily available on affordable prices. The medicinal plant sector has occupied an important position in the spiritual, socio-economic, socio-cultural and medicinal arena of the rural and tribal people of the country.
The reach of the Ayurvedic Drug is very deep especially in far flung areas of the State. Today, in the tribal areas of Pangi, Lahaul & Spiti and Kinnaur, the Indian system of medicines is providing the basic health care facility effectively. In view of this, the State Govt. has further strengthened the departmental run pharmacies on one hand and has also persuaded the reputed pharmaceutical companies to invest in H.P. for manufacturing of Ayurvedic drugs for meeting the growing demand. The State Government has also initiated efforts to encourage growing and cultivation of large number of medicinal and Aromatic plants. Till now, only forests have been the main source of the herbs, but in future this dependence will reduce considerably. The different Research Institution, University and department like Ayurveda, forest and Horticulture have successfully generated the awareness on this aspect and disseminated technical know- how available with them for growing various herbs to meet the increased demand of the basic herbal raw material in future. A large number of farmers are coming forward to take up the cultivation of medicines plant sector in H.P. where all the aspects of the medicinal and aromatic plants like cultivation, conservation, trade, quality control etc. related issues have been incorporated.
Himachal Pradesh which is today known as apple and power State would also be known as Herbal State and an assured source for best quality raw material for herbal drugs. The need of the hour is also to evolve practical guidelines for the sustainable exploitation of threatened species and parameters affecting medicinal plant utilization. The policy & strategic plans translated would go a long way in harnessing the medicinal wealth of the State for the welfare of mankind as a whole. The farmers are being encouraged to cultivate medicinal plants so that they could earn their livelihood. Planting Material costing more than lakhs of rupees have been provided to the farmers, NGOs and Government institutions in the State. Herbs costing more than lakhs of rupees have also been provided to Ayurvedic Pharmacy, Jogindernagar for manufacturing Ayurvedic medicines. Research Institute, Jogindernagar is organizing farmer training programme at different parts of the State where farmers being provided know-how about identification and cultivation of medicinal plants.
From: HP State I&PR Dept.