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Medicinal Plant Cultivation in India; A Profitable Agribusiness Amid Covid-19 Crisis

In the present scenario where the entire world is scrambling to discover a cure for the Covid-19 pandemic, many health experts have advised boosting the body's immune system which can help to minimize the effect and hasten the recovery from the disease. In this terrible situation, medicinal herbs have emerged as a savior.

Different Medicinal Plants

In the present scenario where the entire world is scrambling to discover a cure for the Covid-19 pandemic, many health experts have advised boosting the body's immune system which can help to minimize the effect and hasten the recovery from the disease. In this terrible situation, medicinal herbs have emerged as a savior.

In India, the Ministry of AYUSH has recommended people to drink Kadha (formulation) made of tulsi leaves, Dalchini, dry ginger powder, and black pepper for self-care and immunity-boosting measures. Consumption of medicinal herbs is increasing day by day at a very fast speed. In such a condition, the cultivation of medicinal plants would be a very profitable agribusiness for Indian farmers.

India has 15 Agroclimatic zones, 17,000 to 18,000 types of blooming plants in which 6000–7000 are evaluated to have therapeutic properties. The use of these medicinal plants is found in numerous Indian societies and is archived in Indian systems of medication, for example, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Swa-rigpa, and Homeopathy. Around 960 types of medicinal plants are assessed to be in trade of which 178 species have yearly consumption levels of more than 100 metric tonnes.

India has solid traditional health care practices that represent the old style of medication. The significant shared characteristic of the Indian old style and the folk health care traditions is their reliance upon the raw material got from an enormous assorted variety of plant species, which is evaluated to be around 6,500.

The first genuine endeavor at the national level to survey the demand and supply of therapeutic plants in the nation was made by the National Medicinal Plant Board during 2001-02 when it appointed an examination through CERPA to comprehend yearly trade levels of chosen 162 medicinal plant species. From that point, the NMPB in 2006-07 commissioned a national report to evaluate the demand and supply of medicinal plants in India. That review done by FRLHT brought different complexities in the herbal area to the surface and added to the comprehension of the subject identified with the assorted variety of raw drugs substances in trade, their botanical relationship, the volume of yearly trade, and supply sources.

Profit in Medicinal Plant Farming

Cultivation of medicinal plants in a commercial mode is one of the most profitable agribusiness for farmers. If anyone has sufficient land and knowledge of herb marketing then he or she can earn a high income in a very moderate investment in India.

Cultivation of medicinal herbs like Shankhapushpi, Atis, kuth, kutki, kapikachhu, karanja, are changing the Indian agrarian Ayurvedic scenes along with the extraordinary opportunities for the farmers to increase their income. According to the Traditional Treatment Health Center, 25 significant medicinal plants are always in full demand. They are; Indian Barbery, Licorice, Bael, Isabgol, Atis, Guggal, Kerth, Aonla, Chandan, Senna, Baiberang,  Long Pepper, Brahmi, Jatamansi, and Madhunashini, Kalmegh, Satavari, Ashwagandha, Chirata, Katki, Shankhpushpi, Ashoka, Giloe, kokum, Safed Musli.

For example, A farmer producing atis herb, largely utilized in ayurvedic medication, in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh may easily earn Rs2.5-3 lakh for each acre of land. A lavender rancher may get Rs1.2-1.5 lakh returns per acre of land, by cultivating rattan jot, Rs 1.15 lakh per acre, and karu, Rs 1.5-2 lakh for every acre of land.

Along with previously mentioned medicinal herbs Mint, Aloe vera, Basil, Tulsi, Lemongrass, Coriander, Ajwain, are the most beneficial therapeutic yields in India.

However, a survey conducted by the All India Coordinated Research Project on Ethnobiology (AICRPE) during the most recent decade recorded more than 8000 types of wild plants utilized by the tribals and other conventional communities in India for rewarding different medical issues. Around 30% of therapeutic arrangements are gotten from roots, 5% blossoms, 10% organic products, 14% bark, 16% entire plants, 6% leaves, 7% seeds, 3% wood, 4% rhizomes, 6% stems and just under 20% of the species utilized are developed.

NMPB Offers Upto 75% Subsidy for Medicinal Plants Cultivation

To energize the medicinal plants' cultivation throughout India "The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB)" offers up to 75% subsidy to the farmers. NMPB has formulated schemes and guidelines for financial assistance in various zones of the medicinal plant division secured under Promotional and Commercial plans relevant both for government and non-government associations. Farmers across the nation are getting financial assistance by the AYUSH Ministry to empower the cultivation of herbs and other medicinal plants. A subsidy, as high as 75 percent, is being given as a feature of a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.

At present, many medicinal plants species have been prioritized for supporting cultivation across the nation for which subsidy is provided to the farmers, such as 75% subsidy for highly endangered medicinal plants, 50% for the cultivation of critically declining medicinal plants, and 30% for other therapeutic plants species which need support.

Below is the Prioritized list of Medicinal Plants for cultivation under the Scheme of NMPB

Plants eligible for 30% subsidy

Total 55 species of medicinal plants in India are eligible for 30% subsidy including, Neem, Brahmi, Tulsi, Pippali, Isabgol, Ghritkumari, Dalchini, Tejpat, Kapoor, Chirmati, Vach, Adusa, Smaller Galanga, Kalmegh, Artemisia, Shatavari, Pashnabheda, Pinarnava, Senna, Patang, Sadabahar, Malkagani, Mandookparni, ShwetMusali, Arni, Aparajita, Patherchur, Shankhpushpi, Krsnasariva, Rotalu, Bringaraj, Amla, Kokum, Vai Vidang, Gudmar, Kapurkachari, Anantmool, Kurchi, Trivrit, Indian Crocus, Chandrasur, Konch, Bhumiamlaki, Bakuchi, Manjishha, Flannel Weed, Kathel-badhi, Makoy, Madhukari, Pawad, Arjuba, Bahera, Harad, Giloy, Nirgundi, and Aswagandha.

Plants eligible for 50% subsidy

Total 27 species including Katha, Beal, Mulethi, Shirish, Varun, Gambhari, Chitrak, Agnimanth, Beejasar, Ashok, Timoor, Patala, Rohitak, Sarpgandha, Indian Valerian, Prishnaparni, Hrddhatri, Archa, Vidarikand, Nagakeshar, Jivanti, Pushkarmool, Kalihari, Sarivan, Atropa, and Satvin.

Plants eligible for 75% subsidy

A total of 13 species of medicinal plants are eligible for a 75% subsidy including Chandan, Jatamansi, Atees, Agar, Guggal, Kutki, Raktachandan, Bankakri, Syonaka, Vatsnabh, Daruhaldi, Kuth, and Chirata.

For detailed information, farmers can visit: www.nmpb.nic.in

Production Scenario of Medicinal Plants in the Indian States

Here we will get a state-wise tally about the area and production of medicinal plants. Rajasthan is having the highest area under these crops with a share of 56 percent, followed by Uttar Pradesh (25 %). Other major states were Madhya Pradesh (11%), Tamil Nadu (2%), Punjab (2%), Chhattisgarh (2%), Andhra Pradesh (1%), and Bihar (1%).

In the case of production, Madhya Pradesh ranks 1st with a share of 44% and Rajasthan stands 2nd with a share of 19%. The states like Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, and Arunachal Pradesh were having a share of 16%, 8%, and 7% respectively. Though Karnataka is having less than a 1% share in the area but the production, it shares 2% to total country production.

Karnataka is gifted with an assortment of climatic conditions. It is one of the gigantically potential states for the cultivation of therapeutic plants. The tropical forests of the Western Ghats and deciduous Jungles of the Deccan plateau are rich in medicinal plants. Biodiversity with over 2500 types of plants. Karnataka is one of the main producers of Ashwagandha (61.65 %), Amla (9.46%), sandalwood (9.41%), and producer of other oils like Lemongrass, Citronella, Palma Rosa, Jasmine, Tuberose and Vettiver in significant qualities. Besides the above, Karnataka has also the potential to take up the cultivation of medicinal plants such as Tulsi, Stevia, Aloe vera, Coleus, Salcia, Acorus, Andrographis, Bail, Guggal, Pachouli, and Gloriosa.

Voluntary Certification Scheme for Medicinal Plants

To assist Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Field Collection Practices (GFCP) in therapeutic plants and improve the quality and wellbeing of these plants, the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), and Quality Council of India (QCI), have jointly propelled a Voluntary Certification Scheme for Medicinal Plant Produce and make accessible great quality raw material to the AYUSH industry.

This scheme will benefit medicinal plant producers, groups of producers, collectors, traders, societies, manufacturers of herbal medicines, Ayush industry, and Ayush consumers as well because of the assured quality of the medicinal plants and herbs.

This scheme will also reduce the risk of recall and rejection, will increase buyer confidence in Indian herbs. It will provide assured legal compliance and assured sustainable collection as well.

The certification is available in two options:

Option 1st

An individual producer or collector applies for certification and gets certification for his/her produce.

Option 2nd

A producer or collector group applies for group certification and the producer group, as a legal entity, gets certification.

Certification Criteria

The confirmation of the certification under the scheme requires guaranteeing adjustment to guidelines on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for Medicinal Plants-Requirements and Good Field Collection Practices (GFCP) of Medicinal Plants-Requirements.

Universities and Institutes offering Courses in Cultivation of Medicinal Plants

There are several universities and institutes in India which offer certificate and diploma courses in the cultivation of medicinal plants. Some of them are listed below;

Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nasik www.muhsnashik.com

This university is offering a "Certificate Course in Cultivation and Marketing of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants". The duration of this course is of 9 months and the eligibility required is 10+2(H.S.C) or Equivalent.

Chhattisgarh University, www.cguniversity.com

This university runs a "Diploma in Medicinal Plant Farming (Cultivation)". Duration: 1 Year and Eligibility: 10+2(H.S.C)

Sharmila Institute of Medicinal Products Research Academy, Thanjavur 613007, Tamil Nadu, India. www.simpra.co.in

This institute is offering a "Post Graduate Diploma in Medicinal Plants Biotechnology (PGD- MPBT)". Duration: 1 year and Under Graduate students are eligible for this course.

Kongunadu Arts and Science College, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, www.kongunaducollege.ac.in

This Institute offers a full-time course named "Diploma Courses in Cultivation and Marketing of Medicinal Plants."

Uttarakhand Open University, Haldwani,Nainital, Uttarakhand, Ph: +91 5946 261122, www.uou.ac.in

This university offers a "Certificate in Ayurvedic Herb Cultivation" with a duration of 1 year and in distance learning mode.

Marketing of Medicinal Plants

The medicinal plants are not just a significant asset base for the customary medication and herbal industry yet, also, it gives occupation and wellbeing security to an enormous portion of the Indian populace. The domestic trade of the AYUSH business is about Rs. 80 to 90 billion every year. The Indian therapeutic plants and their products are also exported in the range of about Rs. 10 billion each year.

India's local herbal industry is represented by 8610 authorized herbal units, a large number of cabin level unregulated natural units and a huge number of people healers and family unit level clients of thousands of herbal raw drugs on one hand and an intricate trade web on the other that channels the herbal raw medications from different flexible sources to the end clients. Along these lines, to comprehend the Marketing and trade of the sector, an emphasis on Demand and Supply of therapeutic plants is significant. The canvas depicting demand and supply of medicinal plants in the nation is itself extremely mind-boggling.

Presently Marketing of Medicinal Plant produces mostly occurs through Mandis and other wholesale markets. There are various mediators as well. Trades are rather opaque and based on data on costs and appearances because different trends are not easily available to the farmers or producers. Here NMPB has started various initiatives to fill this gap.

The commercialization of the production of old-style ASU formulations requiring huge amounts of wild-harvested, developed, or imported herbal raw drugs that have seen the rise of the flourishing raw drug trade. It is important to realize the yearly consumption levels of the herbal raw medications and the patterns of their utilization to adequately deal with the asset for guaranteeing supportable supplies to the herbal industry, society clients, and developing worldwide markets.

Online Marketing through e-charak

e-charak is an online market place for the sale of medicinal plants. To provide an online market portal for the trade of medicinal plants and their produce, NMPB has launched an online virtual platform www.e-charak.in, and a mobile application e-charak. This online gateway could be accessed either through an internet browser or the mobile app which could be downloaded through google play store in any android cell phone. On this online platform, farmers and collectors could show their produce under possession and purchasers like merchants, traders, manufacturers, exporters could able to see products according to their requirements. This application and online platform would make a clear straightforward, serviceable exchange linkage among the producers and buyers. In this way formation of e-charak is a route forward of the Digital India Program.

According to the World Health Organisation, 70% to 95% of individuals in most of the developing countries depend to a great extent on traditional medication, mostly for natural cures, for primary healthcare. Currently, around 25% of medications are derived from plants, and numerous others are manufactured analogs based on model mixes segregated from plant species in the present-day pharmacopeia. In 2006, researchers evaluated that more than 70,000 plant species were being utilized in medicines around the world.

According to the Botanical Survey of India, India is gifted with more than 8,000 types of medicinal plants, and it's a blessing for Indian farmers that, land and climate of various regions in India are favorable for the cultivation of medicinal plants. The nation has a rich history of classical healing systems, a considerable lot of which list the utilization of these plants. For example, the oldest printed book on Indian medicinal plants, "Hortus Malabaricus," deals with the medicinal properties of the flora of the Malabar region along with India's Western Ghats region covering the regions now in the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Goa.

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