Director Indian Systems of Medicine J&K, Niraj Kumar, who is also the Member Secretary of the J&K Medicinal Plants Board, Tuesday called for devising a strategy to enhance the production and availability of important medicinal plants in the State.He was speaking at a meeting of officers from all concerned departments convened to discuss the means to tackle the decreasing production of different kinds of important medicinal plants in the State. J&K State Forest Research Institute (Bio-diversity Board), Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing, Department of Horticulture, Department of Floriculture, SKUAST-K (Regional Centre National Medicinal Plants Board) and Directorate of School Education Kashmir took part in the discussions.The meeting was informed that about 100 species of medicinal plants which are endangered or vulnerable need immediate intervention.Kumar while stressing the need to replenish the natural resources said it was important to encourage commercial cultivation and diversify the natural habitat of medicinal plants. He also said there is a need for the people living near the forest areas to be trained and encouraged to cultivate these plants and for preserving the locally available herbs in the area.
The Director also stressed on the demarcation of areas where farmers in clusters can be encouraged to take up cultivation of rare herbs. He also said there was a need to develop new agro-techniques to preserve the gene bank of the said plants. It was also said that establishment of herbal villages where medicinal trees can be grown can go a long way in these efforts and in adding to the economy of the area. Value addition of medicinal plants like herbal teas and reviving the old tradition of using natural food-dyes were also suggested in the meeting.The J&K State Forest Research Institute consented to establish two nurseries of medicinal plants, which will serve as the gene bank of these endangered species, whereas the Department of Floriculture Kashmir, which already has a herbal garden and two nurseries at Botanical Garden Srinagar, consented to establish two nurseries one each at Kokernnag and Tangmarg.It was also said that SKUAST-K would develop cultivation protocols and agro-technique of some of these endangered plants whereas the Directorate of School Education will help in capacity building and awareness.