Mubashir Aalam Wani
Srinagar, Oct 19: Harnessing the untapped potential of the region’s natural resources, the Jammu and Kashmir government has successfully brought 141 hectares of land under the cultivation of medicinal plants during the past five years.
Medicinal plants have been a cornerstone of traditional medicine in India for centuries. They not only serve as a source of alternative medicine but also present a tremendous opportunity for economic growth and employment generation.
Recognizing this potential, the Jammu and Kashmir government embarked on an ambitious mission to promote the cultivation of medicinal plants and harness their rich biodiversity.
In 2015, the Jammu and Kashmir government brought nine hectares of land under medicinal plant cultivation. It was followed by 34 hectares in the following year.
Data suggested in 21 hectares of land were utilized for growing medicinal plants in 2017.
In 2018, 2019 and 2020, the government expanded the area under medicinal plant cultivation to 24, 28 and 25 hectares, respectively.
In India, at least 56305 hectares of land has been brought under the cultivation of different species of medicinal plants.
Under the ‘Medicinal Plants’ component of the National Ayush Mission scheme, the centre is supporting the market-driven cultivation of 140 prioritized medicinal plants in identified clusters and zones across the country.
In Jammu and Kashmir, this year cultivation of medicinal plants has picked pace in Doda area of Jammu.
Farmers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district are switching to cultivation of medicinal plants instead of crops like rice, maize and wheat.
Many farmers in Doda villages close to forested areas are now growing medicinal and aromatic plants such trillium (Nag-Chatri), saussurea costus (Kuth), inula (Mannu), dandelion (Handh), wild garlic, and balsam apple (Ban-Kaakri), as well as lavender and Tagetus Minuta.
Researchers have documented that at least 1123 varieties of medicinal plants are found in Jammu and Kashmir.
A study published in 2018 identified 50 native medicinal plant species in the region that required “immediate conservation action” based on ecological and socioeconomic factors.
Pertinently, the government of Jammu and Kashmir with a budget of Rs 62 crore, has set the target of bringing 5000 kanal of land spread across 28 clusters under medicinal and aromatic plant cultivation in five years.
The medicine and aromatic plant cultivation as per the document is estimated to contribute about Rs 75 crore every year after 5 years which is expected to rise to over Rs 783 crore by the year 2037.
A senior official directorate of Ayush said the government was currently prioritising the Medicine and Aromatic sector in Jammu and Kashmir to substantial economic benefits to the region apart from enhancing the availability of raw materials for the pharmaceutical and herbal medicine industries.