Kerala to streamline medicinal plants production

Kerala to streamline medicinal plants productionThiruvananthapuram, Dec 19 - With the international market for medicinal plants estimated to be around $60 billion and their exports from India crossing Rs. 3,000 crore ($567 million), Kerala -- home to a huge variety, as well as quantity, of medicinal plants -- has decided to streamline their growth and marketing in a systematic manner.

As a first step, the Kerala State Biodiversity Board (KSBB) has formed the Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC), which has already begun its work to prepare the People's Biodiversity Register (PBR) at the micro-level in every local body in the state.

Speaking to IANS, KSBB member secretary K. P. Laladhas said that once the PBR is ready, all flora and fauna would be accounted for.

"In the modern world, the revival of interest in plant-based drugs is mainly due to the widespread belief that 'green medicine' is safe with no adverse effects. According to the State Medicinal Plants Board, the marketing of herbal medicines from Kerala was worth $5 billion in 2010," said Laladhas.

The demand for ayurvedic medicine in the state is growing at a rate of 10-12 percent per annum.

"This resurgence of interest in plant-based drugs has led to an increase in the demand for medicinal plants leading to over-exploitation, unsustainable harvesting and finally to a virtual decimation of several valuable plant species in the wild, especially medicinal plants. The trade is vastly secretive, unregulated and expanding at an enormous pace," pointed out Laladhas.

KSBB has called a meeting of all the stake holders in this industry to ensure that guidelines are developed.

"In our efforts to streamline this sector, the local bodies can act as watchdogs. Once the PBR is ready, each and every local body will know what they have and they can also start a programme for their people to even grow medicinal plants," added Laladhas.

Kerala is home to nearly 10,035 plant species (22 percent of national plant diversity) and out of the 4,600 flowering plants found in Kerala, 1,500 are endemic.(IANS)