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India has had a long tradition of plant-based indigenous system of medicine, both codified as well as folkloric. For centuries, this has been on the basis of raw material collection from the country’s rich repository in its various agro-climatic zones and used by local vaidyas to treat their patients. Today, even as a formal medicinal plant industry is growing, India has a low share in the global market for Medicinal and Aromatic Plant products (MAPs). To address the bottlenecks to growth, India must develop and strengthen:
- Scientific cultivation to increase yields and active ingredients, as well as reduce pressure on wild stocks;
- Post -harvest technology to retain quality and reduce losses;
- Processing at decentralized aggregation hub to strengthen local economies;
- Manufacturing to add value to generate better margins;
- Marketing to build a brand and to diversify buyers;
- strengthen intellectual property rights to provide incentives where due and facilitate greater participation by various stakeholders in a common initiative, and
- While caring about the conservation of the wild gene pool.
One of the major challenges to address in this regard is the lack of coordination amongst various private and regulatory agencies in spite of the existence of national and state level Medicinal Plant Boards and localized associations and NGOs. Unfortunately, there is no common platform available at an all-India level for addressing the most critical issues faced by this sector.
Indigenous communities living in and around forest areas are both knowledgeable about plant identification and occurrence and see the collection of wild plants to supply to market as a key economic activity to generate cash income. However, unless measures are taken to ensure good collection practices and limits to harvesting levels, there could be serious depletion of local populations of plants in trade.
It has been a long-felt need to form a national and international level platform of Maps’ stakeholders to boost conservation measures and also address the various aspects mentioned above while advocating for improved policies.
Even if the journey will be long, as a Chinese proverb goes, an first step in this direction has now been taken.
Numerous agencies and individual stakeholders have decided to come together to form FEDMAPS - Federation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Stakeholders, an autonomous body of various stakeholders such as traders, collectors, cultivators, researchers, practitioners, government agencies and industry working in the MAPs sector. I am pleased to announce that FEDMAPS has received a license to function as a non-profit organization under Section 8 (1) of the Companies Act 2013 (equivalent to Section 25 of the old Companies Act 1956).
FEDMAP will sincerely endeavor to promote the various objectives of the Maps’ stakeholders through networking, advocacy and awareness building to ensure a transparent, well regulated and dynamic sector in India and abroad. Please refer to our Objectives and Proposed activities for more details.
Hence, I invite you to join FEDMAPS. I assure you the Federation will speak and work for the sector and create an atmosphere where every stakeholder grows along with the sector.
I look forward to your support for this initiative.
Janak Raj Rawal
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