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.
â€œScripting the success has come after working with the womanâ€™s groups for a decade,â€ 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.
â€œIt happens to be perhaps the largest tract in the state used for attempting to cultivate a native Himalayan medicinal plant species,â€ 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.