Arunachal to popularise medicinal plants

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh State Medicinal Plant Board has started an innovative scheme to popularize commercial cultivation of medicinal plants found abundantly in the state and to make it a viable option for earning money for unemployed youths.

The Board, which was initially established in 2002 under the Department of Health and Family Welfare, was later transferred to the Department of Environment and Forest in 2007. The state government has taken up many promotional activities for medicinal plants suggested and funded by the National Medicinal Plant Board, New Delhi.

In 2008, a project called "Mainstreaming use of medicinal plant diversity" in Uttarakhand, Chattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh was introduced by the UNDP.
For the project, seven Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas have been identified at Tawang, Bomdila, Hapoli, Daporijo, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit and Longding Forest Division. In these areas, forest gene banks are being created for future use of medicinal plants for sustainability.

The board also identified four sustainable harvest areas at Morsing for the collection of Illicium griffithii, Selari for Xanthoxylum armata and Jerigaon for Chirayata both under Bomdila Forest Division and Joram Taloh under Hapoli Forest Division for Rubia Cordifolia. .

"Arunachal has more than 500 species of such plants, deputy conservator of forests (Industry) and member-secretary of the Board, T Gapak, said.

The purpose of MPCA is not only aimed at the conservation of medicinal plants, but also for eco-tourism prospects in the state. It will benefit the locals both in in-situ or ex-situ (off-site) cultivation of medicinal plants which are of immense value in Ayurvedic drug manufacturing industries,? informed Gapak.

The main purpose of the board is to study and conserve the valued medicinal plants in the state including medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPS), he added.

Gapak said,"Farmers would be able to derive maximum benefits if they venture into this field." He regretted that people in the state were still to understand the real value of medicinal plants.

Gapak said that the Board was trying to divert the wild collection through ex-situ cultivation and that mandis and collection centres for marketing the end products would be formed soon.

The Centre had last year sanctioned an amount of Rs 30 lakh for promoting `Amla` and `Sajna` cultivation for which the board would soon organize campaigns like putting up hoardings, signboards, activities like essay writing and painting competitions on the subject.