In addition to the above State Sector there are District Sector initiatives for post-harvest scheme providing agricultural implements to the farmers cultivating medicinal/aromatic plants, processing units as also exploration of market for the same; production of planting material under which medicinal/aromatic plants are raised and maintained by District Bheshaj Sanghs to produce plants/seeds of different species; financial assistance to all the Bheshaj Sanghs for establishing office, godowns and acquire means of transport under development of infrastructure scheme.
Ayurveda is the source of all medical knowledge. All other systems in the world derived their initial knowledge from Ayurveda. However, due to lack of further research and absence of documentation, gradually the rich wealth of knowledge in this sector has diminished. However, with the renewed efforts by National Medicinal Plants Board and various organisations at the private sector, a significant encouragement and impetus has been brought about not only for growing use of herbal medicines, but cultivation, processing, production and marketing of herbal medicines in a scientific way.
There, however, is still need for creation of wide awareness at all sections of the community. Industry and Trade Associations like Helpline Twenty First Century (HTFC) can play a significant role in promoting the interest. In fact, a seminar on herbal sector was organised by HTFC earlier on December 26, 2007. At this event, a MoU was signed with Sadhana TV for launching a regular live telecast named Har Hath Ko Mile Kam every Saturday and Sunday from 8-00 to 8-30 p.m. by Helpline Twenty First Century. The purpose of this telecast is to farther awareness among SMEs and general public, particularly educated youth across the country about job and entrepreneurship prospect involved in various sectors of national economy and benefits available through a large number of incentive schemes of Government of India and other agencies. So far, 44 episodes, have been successfully telecast with the sponsorship and support of various organisations like NSIC, ESIC, etc. The programme evoked a great deal of interest among the viewers, all over the country, and in view of the growing desire expressed for continuation of the programme in more opportune sectors, it has been decided to continue with 100 episodes through the year.
National Medicinal Plants Board may like to consider sponsoring exclusive 25 episodes on medicinal plants and herbal medicines. The purpose of the programme would be to telecast various details of cultivation, processing, production, training and marketing of herbal medicines and medicinal herbs with thrust on creating and impart necessary knowledge, skills and business profile.
In the recent time, there have been concerns over growing unemployment in the country and emphasise made on investment in labour intensive small enterprises and skill upgradation among the existing workforce and new entrants to the labour arena. The programme obviously creates environment to encourage people to come up with entrepreneurial initiative.
The foregoing highlights that herbal medicines are recognized as an alternative to chemical mixed drugs, market prospect is extensively large but information gap plays a big role as deterrent to growing interest in cultivation of medicinal herbs. It is also established that with growing consumption and demand of herbal medicine, the scope in the herbal sector is immense and there is a great opportunity for employment in this sector. A strong focus is, therefore, needed on overall development of herbal industry in India including market prospects, creation of entrepreneurship, creation of awareness, promoting investments for sustainable cultivation, processing, storage and quality control.
With proper care, Indian herbal medicine sector has the potential to turn out as a billion dollar industry and offering employment opportunities to millions of people.
(The writer is president of Helpline Twenty First Century and can be contacted at DCM Building, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi; e-mail [email protected].)