India has 15 agroclimatic zones that comprise ~18,000 types of plants, of which 6,000-7,000 have therapeutic properties. These medicinal plants are used in numerous applications in the Indian society and used to make medicines in traditional medical practices such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and homeopathy; also used in plant-based pharmaceutical companies. ~960 types of medicinal plants are traded, of which 178 species have yearly consumption levels of >100 metric tonnes. ~80% medicinal plants are extracted from the wild, while 69% plants are collected using destructive farming practices.

There is a huge gap between the supply and demand of medicinal plants to manufacture Ayurvedic medicines in India. According to the ‘All India Trade Survey of Prioritised Medicinal Plants, 2019’, demand for high-value medicinal plants increased by 50%, while the availability declined by 26%. This led to increased habitat degradation and levels of over-exploitation by pharmaceutical industries. This also resulted in 65 species (i.e., 10% of the total species) falling into the critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, and nearly threatened categories.

For ayurvedic medicines, raw materials such as herbs and shrubs can be grown and harvested in a period of one year, while medicinal trees take >10 years to get ready for harvesting. Therefore, it is important to engage in conservation, cultivation, and research & development of medicinal plants.

Cultivation of medicinal plants in a commercial mode is one of the most profitable agri-business for farmers in India. If anyone has sufficient land and knowledge of herb marketing, then they can earn a high income with moderate investments. Cultivation of medicinal herbs such as shankhapushpi, atis, kuth, kutki, kapikachhu and karanja are changing the Indian agrarian ayurvedic scenes and providing extraordinary opportunities for farmers to increase their incomes. According to the traditional treatment health centre, there are 25 significant medicinal plants that are always in full demand. These plants include the Indian Barberry, Liquorice, Bael, Isabgol, Atis, Guggal, Kerth, Aonla, Chandan, Senna, Baiberang, Long Pepper, Brahmi, Jatamansi, and Madhunashini, Kalmegh, Satavari, Ashwagandha, Chirata, Katki, Shankhpushpi, Ashoka, Giloe, Kokum and Safed Musli.

Source : ibef.org / For more details

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