|A: With global acceptance of Ayurveda as
an alternative system of medicine picking up, there has
been a steep rise in the demand for medicinal plants in
the domestic and international markets, which the Himachal
government intends exploiting to the maximum.
According to an official spokesman, this hill state
is a virtual storehouse of some of the most wanted medicinal
plants and herbs. ``We have something like 3,000 species
of which almost 500 have medicinal properties,'' he added.
He said the estimated production of Ayurvedic drugs
had risen from about Rs 100 crore in 1991 to almost Rs
4,000 crore and the demand was increasing. The state
itself had witnessed an increase in the number of Ayurvedic
pharmacies, which now stands at 80.
To cater to the demands of this growing industry, the
state government had embarked upon a Rs 8.27-crore plan
to establish ``vanaspati vanas'' (herbal forests) in
collaboration with the Union Health Ministry, the spokesman
He said the state's agro-climatic conditions were ideal
for growing medicinal plants. ``To fully exploit this
potential, the state has been divided into four zones
- the sub-tropical low hill Shivalik range, the mid-hill
sub-temperate zone, the high hill temperate wet and the
high hill temperate dry alpine zone,'' he added.
He said each zone had its own characteristic which
was witnessed in the medicinal flora also. To utilise
the optimum potential of the state's herbal wealth, the
government had decided to establish a herbal garden in
each of the four zones, he added.
The success of the herbal garden at Jogindernagar,
spread over an area of 24 acres with over 200 species
had acted as a catalyst. ``The garden is now being used
for practical demonstrations and identification of medicinal
plants for students and also those who intend to take
up growing herbal plants as cash crops in their land
holdings,'' the spokesman said.
Seeing the interest of students and potential growers
in medicinal plants as also their huge potential in the
state, the government has decided to set up herbal gardens
at Neri in Hamirpur district, Sarivase in Rohru sub-division
of Shimla district and Batseri in the Sangla valley of
Kinnaur district. When complete, they will have hundreds
of medicinal species in them.