Himachal women farmers turn cannabis fields into herbal gardens

Shimla: Turning around woman groups in interiors of Mandi district from cultivating cannabis crop to taking up farming of medicinal herbs has not only helped in containing the contraband activity but has also paid rich returns for them.

A consignment of 2500 Kgs of Chirayita – a medicinal plant found in Himalayas, which has for the first time been successfully cultivated, was sold to Dabur India Ltd for manufacturing herbal medicines at their Gaziabad factory.

A herbal garden of what used to be a cannabis field

“Scripting the success has come after working with the woman’s groups for a decade,” says Lal Singh, director of Himalayan Research Group (HRG), an award winning NGO working for women empowerment through application of science and technology.

Precious herbal wealth in the Himalayan region is threatened by over exploitation for commercial consumption and it has been a long journey for achieving commercial production of Chirayita, one important species with medicinal values, he said.

Motivating women farmers to adopt new technologies for reducing their drudgery and improving livelihoods at Gohar block in interiors of Mandi district by giving up cultivation of cannabis and taking to medicinal crops took a long time.

Starting from the year 2000, first training was imparting and after about 1500 women were trained, commercial production on a 70 hectare patch was taken to for the new experimental crop.

Harvesting the new herbal crop

“It happens to be perhaps the largest tract in the state used for attempting to cultivate a native Himalayan medicinal plant species,” says Lal.

Senior forest official GS Goraya, who flagged of the consignment today, said that at a pre-negotiated rate of Rs 288/ per Kg, the new crop was worth more than Rs 7 lakhs for the women farmers.

Including the sold consignment, a record production of 3115 Kgs of the medicinal plant was achieved. For marketing purposes, the plant is first dried before it is packaged.

Chirayita herb is said to contain anti-diabetic properties, is considered a blood purifier and liver tonic by herbal medicine practitioners. It is also said to contain properties for containing fevers.

At the Gohar block, 319 families under a self group have successfully taken to commercially growing the new crop, the demand for which is growing.

Union governments Science & Technology department devised the agotechnology for cultivation of Chirayita and the spread of the crop through organised women groups was supported by National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), New Delhi, a spokesman of HRG said.

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  1. says: Macciza

    Ridiculous – Cannabis fields are medicinal herbal gardens! Leave them!
    Cannabis is a medicinal herb that has over a 10,000 year history of use and is recognise as an Ayurivedic and Traditional Chinese medicinal herb. That this is replaced is an affront to this history of use perpertrated by biased, moralistic extension of the US led Drug War is disgusting.
    The medicinal value of Cannabis would far exceed that of any ‘medicinal crop’ proposed. The value of this medicine in the US and Europe is billions of legal dollars. Stop your moralising and provide real support.

  2. says: Kamal Thakur

    @Macciza – I am well aware of the fact that marijuana is a medicinal herbal. However, it is important to understand that marijuana is ‘medicinal’ when it is used properly under the supervision of a medical practitioner. Farms that are discussed above were exclusively meant for drug abuse and not any medicinal purpose.

    The real support wud be to scientifically study the herb and it’s attributes… which I believe is not the priority for potheads 🙂

    Our state ll be some of the most affluent communities on earth if marijuana is legalized.. 😉 Until the ‘medicinal’ benefits of the plant are not clearly proved by scientific experiments and methods.. there is no way to make it legal.

    This is not ‘moralising’ This is ‘real.’

  3. says: Rajneesh

    Who knows why Cannabis is ridiculed so much all of a sudden for last few years.. May Be International Drug Mafia..(Sellers Of Heroine, Cocanie , Smack LSD etc..) have bribed INDIAN politicians and or concerned department top brass to eradicate Marijuana …so that International Drug Mafia keeps monopolistic control and enjoys sale of high priced drugs…

    Cannabis is not a threat to common man..its cheap price is a potential threat to INTERNATIONAL DRUG MAFIA and their decades of Illegal Empires…

    Anything can be expected from INDIAN politicians..they are already well recognized for getting commissions right from needle to war Air Planes !

  4. says: Kamal Thakur

    That is true in fact..

    Personally, I believe alcohol is more dangerous to the common man’s health (and his pocket 😉 ) than marijuana.

    The reason why Indians do not cry so much over legalization of herbs like marijuana is that they can easily manage to buy it anyway.. Had our laws (and execution) been tough like those in some state of the US, people would have revolted much earlier.

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