Punjab agriculture misses a mega sector – medicinal plants
Despite favorable climatic conditions, the presence of 284 licensed herbal units and the National Medicinal Plants (NMPB) supporting the commercial cultivation of over 115 listed species under subsidy schemes (30%, 50% and 75%) , Punjab has less than three percent of the agricultural area devoted to medicinal and aromatic plants of the total agricultural area. If we focused only on medicinal plants, the surface would be much less.
However, during my field visits, a peasant-producing society named ‘Suhavi’ is actively involved in the cultivation of Ghritkumari, Sarpgandha, Haldi, Tulsi, Ashwagandha and make nurseries for Sahanjna, Kalmegh, etc. in a village near Noorpur Bedi under Roopnagar district. Likewise, the culture of Haldi is adopted by some farmers in different districts of Punjab.
In Punjab, medicinal plants are mostly harvested from the wild and not cultivated due to common reasons such as lack of awareness, selection of medicinal plants in the particular agro-climatic zone, long gestation period, less clarity on the crop cycle according to the seasons to compete. with traditional crops, the volatility of crop yields, the lack of quality planting material and, above all, the volatility of the market without an assured buy-back mechanism. Addressing these questions is not easy, but a few suggestions can help supplement future discussions.