Scope of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Farming in Eastern India

18 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2012

See all articles by Krishna M. Singh

Krishna M. Singh

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University

Date Written: Feb 19, 2009


South Asia is home to many rich, traditional systems of medicine (TSM). Ayurvedic system dates back to 5000 B.C. Along with the Unani, Siddha and Tibetan systems, these TSMs remain important source of everyday health and livelihood for tens of millions of people. Himalayan sage-scholars of Traditional Medicine have said “Nanaushadhi Bhootam Jagat Kinchit” i.e. 'there is no plant in the world, which does not have medicinal properties.' The ancient scholars are estimated to know the medicinal properties of hundreds of species of plants. It is therefore, no exaggeration to say that the uses of plants for human health are probably as old as human beings themselves. Even so, the recent dramatic increase in sales of herbal products in global markets underscores the growing popularity of herbal therapies. Medicinal plants are accessible, affordable and culturally appropriate sources of primary health care for more than 80% of Asia’s population (WHO). Poor and marginalized, who cannot afford or access formal health care systems, are especially dependent on these culturally familiar, technically simple, financially affordable and generally effective traditional medicines. As such, there is widespread interest in promoting traditional health systems to meet primary health care needs. This is especially true in South Asia, as prices of modern medicines spiral and governments find it increasingly difficult to meet the cost of pharmaceutical-based health care. The pharmaceutical industry is both large and highly successful. Sales of plant derived drugs are expected to reach $30 billion worldwide in 2002. At present about 50% of the total plant-derived drug sales come from single entities, while the remaining 50% come from herbal remedies. The Eastern Region of India comprising of eastern UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh has a large number of valuable medicinal plants naturally growing mostly in fragile ecosystems that are predominantly inhabited by rural poor and indigenous communities. The sustainable management of these traditionally used plants not only help conserve nationally and globally important biodiversity but also provide critical resources to sustain livelihoods. Selection of medicinal plant species for cultivation is an initial important step for the development of the medicinal plants sector. Economic feasibility is the major rationale for a decision to bring medicinal plant species into cultivation. Apart from the priority species selected by the Planning Commission and the NMPB, the rare species banned for collection from the wild should also be taken on a priority basis for cultivation because a majority of such species are very expensive, have high demand and low supply. Cultivation may not be economical if a medicinal plant species is abundant in the wild and easily collected. Therefore, the less abundant species in the wild should be promoted for the large-scale cultivation. Farming of any medicinal plant species should be brought into practice only after the reliable cultivation technology of the concerned species is available. A large variation in climatic and soil conditions in eastern India sustain a variety of medicinal plant species, which may be cultivated according to their niche. The medicinal plants sector can be improved if the agricultural support agencies would come forward to help strengthen the medicinal plants growers and if research institutions would help the plant growers by improving their basic knowledge about cultivation practices. Awareness and interest of farmers, supportive government policies, assured markets, profitable price levels, access to simple and appropriate agro-techniques, and availability of trained manpower are some of the key factors for successful medicinal plants cultivation.

Keywords: Medicinal and Aromatic crops, South East Asia, Herbal

JEL Classification: Q13

Suggested Citation

Singh, Krishna M., Scope of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Farming in Eastern India (Feb 19, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Krishna M. Singh (Contact Author)

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University ( email )

Pusa-Samastipur, Bihar, Bihar 848125
+91-9431060157 (Phone)
+91-6274-240251 (Fax)


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