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Gireesh Babu, New Delhi December 31 , 2021
The export of medicinal plants has grown 33.2 per cent during the year 2020-21, with the growing awareness among people towards natural herbs and traditional medicines, according to the Central government.

The export of medicinal plants, under HS Code 1211 from the Country during the financial year 2020-21 was $377.63 million as compared to $283.52 million exports registered during 2019-20.

“The market of medicinal plants has increased in India as well as all over the world in the last few years due to awareness among people towards natural herbs and traditional medicines,” said Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Ayush, recently in Parliament.

According to the study by the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) under the Ministry, published in 2017, the demand and supply has been depicted in the form of a comprehensive inventory of 1,622 herbal raw drugs correlated to 1,178 medicinal plant species in commercial demand. The total consumption of herbal raw drugs in the country for the year 2014-15 was estimated at 5,12,000 MT with corresponding trade value of Rs. 7,000 crore.

Herbal raw drugs obtained from 242 medicinal plant species collected, cultivated or imported largely for use in healthcare are used in high quantities, with each species being used more than 100 MT per year. Of this, the supply source of 15 species (6%) is through import, 54 species (22%) are obtained from cultivation, 59 species (25%) are wild collection from landscapes outside forests and 114 species (47%) are collected from forests.

However, while the Union Budget for the year 2020-21 has allocated Rs. 25 crore to the proposed Pradhan Mantri Vriksh Ayush Yojana for promotion of medicinal plant cultivation, and marketing, the proposal is pending for the approval from the Cabinet for the past several months. The Ministry of Ayush, in February 5, 2021 has said that the approval is pending with the Cabinet and has recently updated on December 17, that the proposal has been submitted for the approval of the Cabinet.

The Yojana, is for the promotion of medicinal plant cultivation, post-arrest management and marketing support by involving farmers and the Ayush industry. Under the proposed scheme, there is a provision for financial assistance to cultivate medicinal plants and establish post-harvest management infrastructure.

The Ministry further reveals that it has approved or released a total of Rs. 136.58 crore including state share for cultivation of medicinal plants under medicinal plants component of National Ayush Mission (NAM) scheme throughout the country from the financial year 2015-16 to 2020-21.

However, in the year 2020-21, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the normal lives of the public, the fund approved for cultivation under NAM Mission Scheme went down a little to Rs. 20.26 crore, as against Rs. 21.56 crore during the year 2019-20. The highest fund release under the scheme in the last six years was Rs. 28.09 crore in the year 2016-17, which declined to Rs. 26.6 crore during 2017-18. In the following year of 2019-20, this has further declined to Rs. 21.24 crore, according to the data released by the Ministry of Ayush.

The highest allocation among the States were Madhya Pradesh (Rs. 24.86 crore), Uttar Pradesh (Rs. 21.94 crore), Rajasthan (Rs. 12.38 crore), Tamil Nadu (Rs. 10.54 crore) and Karnataka (Rs. 10.13 crore).

The Ministry had provided subsidies for 140 prioritised medicinal plants at 30%, 50% and 75% of the cost of cultivation per hectare through State Implementing agencies across the country.

The NMPB has supported six proposals for setting up of medical plant conservation and development areas (MPCDAs) through survey, documentation of existing natural populations of medicinal and aromatic plants and geo-referencing. The projects supported from the financial year 2015-16 to 2020-21 include two in Mizoram and one each in Gujarat, Nagaland, Odisha and Uttarakhand.

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