& Environment Department
Government of Meghalaya
Because of the problem of SAFETY with modern system of medicine, there is increasing global interest in traditional and herbal medicines. According to WHO’s (WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION) report, over 80% of world population relies on traditional medicines, largely plant based, for their primary health care needs. Glimpses of growing Medicinal Plant Sector internationally may be had from the following facts :
India, one among 12 Bio-diverse countries of the world, is abode of 45000 floral species, out of which 15000 are those of Medicinal Plants. Approx. 85% to 90% of these come from the wild. Department of ISM&H, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India, has identified 1500 medicinal plants of which 500 are commonly used in the preparation of herbal drugs. 150 species have been categorized as endangered. Following are the some of important national attributes that may help in taking advantage of increasing global demand of this sector and also to encourage traditional systems of medicine by the use of Medicinal Plants on sustainable basis :
2. Medicinal Plants Resource in Meghalaya
As per the report of State Level Planning Committee, Meghalaya the State of Meghalaya has 850 species of Medicinal Plants, 377 of which are used by 70% to 80% of the State’s population for primary health care needs. Species like Nepenthes khasiana and Piper peepuloides endemic to Meghalaya are globally threatened as per IUCN Red Data Book. There are approx. 136 practitioners of Local Health Traditions and 15 private clinics of Indian system of Medicines. However, none of these are registered under relevant acts and rules. According to Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Bangalore, 74 of such medicinal and aromatic plants are of tremendous potential to cater to peoples various need plant based medicines. Moreover, there exist 79 rich repositories of medicinal and aromatic plants in form of hitherto fully unexplored SACRED GROVES. Some of the important medicinal and aromatic plants found in Meghalaya are shown as below :
3. Utilization & Management - Current Status
As mentioned above 85% to 90% of Medicinal and Aromatic plants come from the wild, that is, forests. The forests of the state are largely under the control of Autonomous District Councils (ADC). These forests are subjected to very little or no scientific management. In the government controlled reserved and protected forests, which constitutes about 4.56% of the total geographical area. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants occur in these forests as herbs, shrubs and trees.
Medicinal Plants are generally collected in an unorganized and unscientific manner and used in the state mostly in herbal formulations. Capabilities in the form of ‘Good Cultivation and Collection Practices’, ‘Good Manufacturing and Marketing Practices’ etc. are absent in the State. In view of fast growing demand for the medicinal plants for the use in PHARMACEUTICALS, NEUTRACEUTICALS, COSMATOLOGICALS, DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS etc. both at National as well as International level, implementation of the projects and the schemes meant for cultivation, collection, R&D, awareness, commercial supply of the medicinal plants for generation of income and employment while ensuring conservation of endemic and threatened species through the sustainable use is the urgent need of the hour. Following species of Medicinal Plants have commercial potentials at all levels :
Highly demanded top 20 medicinal plants traded in India
*8 species found in Meghalaya
4. Need For Government Intervention
Medicinal Plants’ Sector offers immense potential for economic activity by providing income-generating opportunities to a very large section of the rural population of the state through the conservation & sustainable use of the natural resources. Success stories of Medicinal Plants based economic enterprise of China and other South-East Asian countries are well known. Northeast India, including Meghalaya has better growing conditions harbors rich natural plant species. There are other factor endowments like the traditional skill of people in use of Medicinal Plants, available labour, huge internal and export market and a good transport network.
Realization of potential and need for development of Medicinal Plants sector in the northeastern states has been emphasized in different forums since quite some time. There are schemes and programmes of central as well as state governments towards this objective, which somehow, have been of limited applicability only and could not create an environment for the desired level of urgency of conservation and sustainable economic activity to take off. Enormous advantage from this Sector can be derived, if the State Government takes timely and proper initiatives. Following projects/ schemes may, therefore, be immediately taken-up by the Forest & Environment Department.
Development of Medicinal Plants resource in the state for environmental benefits and to harness economic potential of the resource in a sustainable manner for socio-economic upliftment of the people of the State.
6. Activities and Programmes to be implemented
A broad outline of the activities and programmes to be implemented is as follows: The executive staff of the Department would implement activities of policy, planning, coordination and promotional nature. Specialized activities would be implemented through the ground level functionaries of the department :
7. Financial Implication
The Forest Department will endeavor to secure funds from the institutions like NEC, DONER, MoEF, National Medicinal Plants Board, Government of India, etc for the activities like training and extension programmes, establishment of demonstration centers, Technology Development & Market Information System etc.
8. Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Boards
In order to develop the potential sector of medicinal plants, National Medicinal Plants Board has been constituted under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. At the state level, State Medicinal Plant Board is envisaged to develop this sector by ensuring the implementation of projects on medicinal plants as per operational guidelines of National Medicinal Plants Board, Chief Executive Officer of which is a Forest Officer. Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Board with Chief Secretary, Government of Meghalaya as Chairman and Chief Conservator of Forests(T) as Chief Executive Officer and Principal Secretaries & Commissioner and Secretaries of Health & Family Welfare, Finance, Planning, Forests & Environment departments, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests etc. as Governors came into existence vide Gazette Notification No. FOR.50/2002/282 dated: 16.03.2006 as a Society. It has been registered as a Society on 23.05.2006 with Administrative Office at Office of the PCCF, Meghalaya, Sylvan House, Lower Lachumiere, Shillong-793001. The Chief activity of the Meghalaya State Medicinal Plants Board is to promote the development of medicinal plants in general with special reference to thirty two species, which have been identified by the National Medicinal Plants Board as per Operational Guidelines of National Medicinal Plants Board, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. These guidelines may be accessed at website http://www.nmpb.nic.in. Following are the contact addresses for MSMPB :
C. Budnah, IFS
A. K. Srivastava, IFS