New Delhi: The country lacks credible data on demand and supply of medicinal plants and the Planning Commission’s figures are ambiguous, a government official said on 7 May.
“There is no proper estimate of demand and production for the medicinal plants in India and even the data by the Planning Commission is ambiguous,” Ministry of Mines Special Secretary Pradeep Kumar said at a PHDCCI seminar here.
One survey of the Plan panel puts the demand at 1.39 lakh tonnes a year, while another puts it at over 3.5 lakh tonnes and finally the Commission puts the estimate at 2.4 lakh tonnes by taking the average of the two data, which is misleading, pointed out Kumar.
“The needs of the sector are different from those of normal industries so I suggest the chambers take the matter to the ministry concerned for a separate export promotion council for medicinal plants and their products,” he said.
The government should give proper attention to the sector by defining it properly, Kumar said adding that currently medicinal plants are clubbed with non-timber forest produce, which is not a ‘proper treatment´.
Planning Commission Member V L Chopra pressed upon the need of a regulator for the sector to check excessive exploitation of forest produce.
“There is a need for a separate regulator to see that there is no excess exploitation of the forest produce and also to promote farmland cultivation of such plants,” Chopra said.
The regulator would also prove helpful in establishing price harmonisation between the collectors (who collect the herbs from the forest) and the cultivators (who cultivate herbs in the farmland), Kumar said adding that the move could help check-in adulteration in the medicinal plants as well.
He said adulteration in the sector is rising due to demand-supply mismatch and the government should devise ways to boost sustainable production of medicinal plants.
One way could be increasing the royalty cost for collectors and reduce the same for cultivators to encourage sustained production, Kumar said.
Meanwhile, an official of the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) said the board would be coming out with a new section for medicinal plants and herbs on its website within a few weeks. The section would provide information about the availability, demand and usefulness of about 100 medicinal plants and herbs.