There has been a shift in universal trend from synthetic to herbal medicine recently. It is ancient wisdom that plants have therapeutic value and are used to treat various diseases since Neanderthal age. All ancient civilizations in the world are known to use plants for medicinal purposes. Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicines are well known to the world for their natural ingredients and multiple benefits. Nature has bestowed our country with an enormous wealth of medicinal plants; therefore India has often been referred to as the Medicinal Garden of the world.
Medicinal Plants play an important role in human life to combat diseases since time immemorial. The rural folks and tribals in India even now depend largely on the surrounding plants/forests for their day-today needs. Medicinal plants are being looked upon not only as a source of health care but also as a source of income. The value of medicinal plants related trade in India is of the order of 5.5 billion US dollar (Exim Bank Report-1997) and is further increasing day-by-day. The international market of herbal products is estimated to be US $ 62 billion. India share in the global market of medicinal plants trade is less than 0.5%. In view of the innate Indian strengths, which include diverse eco-systems for growth of medicinal plants, technical/farming capacity, strong manufacturing sector , the medicinal plants sector can provide a huge export opportunity after fulfilling domestic needs.
The Government of India has recently set-up a national level body, the NMPB for the growth and development medicinal plants sector (MPS) in the country. There is a need to streamline and strengthen MPS with a view to promote integrated development by co-ordinating, stimulating production, processing, marketing and establishing a sound infrastructure of the sector in the country. Government of India aims to make the cultivation of medicinal plants and its sustainable management, a people movement.
The varied agro-climate conditions in the India make it suitable for growing a wide range and variety of valuable medicinal plants. The production of medicinal plants being labour intensive generates increased employment opportunities for the farmers particularly the rural masses/tribals and enhances their incomes. Growing medicinal plants is much more remunerative as compared to growing cereals, horticulture crops etc.
The annual turnover of the Indian herbal medicinal industry is about Rs. 7,500 crore as against the pharmaceutical industry’s turnover of Rs. 14,500 crores with a growth rate of more than 15 percent. As per study commissioned by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM), the Indian herbal industry is projected to double to Rs.15, 000 crore by 2015, from the current 7,500 core business. India has a vast and rich resource of herbal raw materials and it can create a niche for itself in the global herbal market if the domestic industry produced quality products of international standards. The apex chamber estimates global herbal industry to grow to Rs 70,000 crore by 2015, more than double from the current level of Rs 30,000 crore.Small-scale players in the sector are likely to witness brighter times ahead.