23 Mar : Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, directed the authorities to make medicinal plantation a mass movement by involving progressive farmers in the cultivation process and bring maximum of the area under its cultivation. He was presiding over 2nd Meeting of the General Body of Himachal Pradesh Medicinal Plants Society here today.
Chief Minister said that state had most suitable varied temperate zones for commercial cultivation of the medicinal herbs and progressive farmers of the state were also keen to take on such commercial activities willingly. He said that cluster-wise development of the areas could be carried so that consolidated produce was available for marketing at one place. He said that different modes of awareness needed to be adopted to educate farmers of the benefits of the medicinal plants which could fetch them remunerative prices. He underlined the need for organization of training camps, workshops, interactive sessions and visits by farmers to different areas so that maximum number of farmers were involved in cash crop cultivation. He said that the health conscious society was fast reverting back to the old herbal medicinal system where different species of herbs would be required by the manufacturers. He said that the cultivation would also utilize the abandoned land to the optimum and additionally generate good income to the farmers. He directed the authorities to also associate progressive farmers with the movement besides departments of Ayurveda, Agriculture and Horticulture.
Prof. Dhumal Himachal being Himalayan State had vast herbal potential which needed to be exploited scientifically. He said that there existed a large variety of rare herbs grown in the wild which had high curative contents and were in great demand in the market. He said that many of such herbs could also be grown commercially not only to meet the demand of the manufacturers but also generate income to the growers. He said that farm scientists needed to motivate farmers to shift from traditional farming practices to commercial farming and medicinal herbal cultivation was best suitable to them. He said that additionally organic farming was also gaining popularity since it had ready market available. He said that keeping in view the health hazards being caused due to chemical fertilizers, organic produce was emerging choicest commodity to the consumers which needed to be taken benefit of by the farmers. He said that although the Society had yet to take off at full swing however it had carried strengthening of medicinal plant resources in Chamba and Sirmour districts of the State where it had approved medicinal plant plantation model involving per hectare plantation of 1100 trees, 4400 shrubs and 13,200 herbs by preparing a detailed Project Implementation Plan. He said that Rs. 5.40 crore were likely to be spent over the same. He said that Society would also be raising a nursery of 17.5 lakh medicinal plants for plantation in different zones of the State.
Chief Minister underlined the need to popularize the identified 11 endangered species amongst the farming community for plantation so that its commercial cultivation could be boosted up to meet the demand in the market. He said that threat status of 57 medicinal plant taxa was assessed and action plan for species-specific conservation worked out. He said that field surveys to locate viable population of species assessed as ‘Threatened’ had been initiated and wild populations of Gentiana kurroo recorded from Sangrah in district Sirmour and adjoining areas while a small population of Lilium polyphyllum recorded in Jeoni Valley in district Mandi. He said that additionally Chilgoza development was also being taken up by the Society for its expansion under 10 Year Action Plan. He directed the authorities to take up all such projects on priority and ensure that every research in this field was practically implemented in the farms and farmers benefitted with the outcome.
Shri S.Roy, Additional Chief Secretary Forests, welcomed the Chief Minister, and said that use of medicinal plants was gaining popularity with the masses. He said that cluster wise development was required for specific medicinal plants cultivation and underlined the need for creation of a strong marketing system so that farmers were motivated to go for medicinal plant cultivation.
Shri G.S.Goraya, Secretary, HP Medicinal Plants Society, conducted the proceedings of the meeting and elaborated the action plan of the society. He also apprised Board of the achievements made since the constitution of the society and targets fixed for coming year.
Shri Vinay Tandon, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Shri A.K.Gulati, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests, Shri R.D. Dhiman, Secretary, Panchayati Raj, Shri K.K.Pant, Secretary Finance, Shri R.K.Gupta, Managing Director, HP State Forest Development Corporation, Dr. Nagin Nanda, Director, Science, Technology and Environment and other senior officers attended the meeting.