By Prof. G.S.N. Murty
| Dr R.L.S. Sikarwar collecting traditional knowledge from
Janjati people of Chitrakoot region
The Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) has set up a unique herbal garden at Arogyadham in Chitrakoot by bringing saplings of various species from the forest and other places to nurse them in the herbal garden. The garden contains nearly 450 different medicinal plants under the categories herbs, trees, shrubs and climbers. More than 90 per cent of the plants are available in Chitrakoot region, while the rest were collected from different parts of the country. This is not simply a herbal garden; it has a purpose and a role to play in strengthening the rural wealth and its conservation and utilisation for sustainable development.
The prime aim behind the project is to keep a record of the traditional knowledge of Janjatis and to integrate it with modern scientific knowledge for the benefit of the region, in particular and the future generations, in general. It also wants to provide agro technology and planting material for cultivation and to inculcate self-reliance among the Janjati farmers through the programme. The UN Development Project has identified 53 species of medicinal plants in the regions of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, of which 40 species are conserved at the Arogyadham herbal garden.
A view of the herbal at Chitrakoot.
The Arogyadham has been chosen by the international organisation, Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), London, and has been selected as one of the ten centres in India to fund for the conservation of 10 endangered species of Chitrakoot region through ex-situ methods. This unique recognition to DRI in its march towards its goal, at the international level is due to the continued efforts of the DRI to develop a unique herbal garden at Chitrakoot over a period of 10 years.
This is a part of the coordinated research project funded to the extent of 50 million US$ by the HSBC, one of the major financial organisations of the world, under the scheme for eco-partnership and entitled Investigating in Nature to fund conservation projects around the world. London-based BGCI operates this programme at the global level to implement the international agenda for conservation of botanical gardens the world over, particularly in countries like Argentina, Brazil, China including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Middle East, North America, including Canada, USA and South-east Asia. Dr R.L. S. Sikarwar and his colleagues have done a commen-dable work in documenting the Janjati folklore, maintenance of herbal nursery, cultivation of medicinal plants, ethnobotany survey and preparation of inventory of plants. A systematic database is available at the Arogyadham.