Western Ghats Task Force Board increases more Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas in Karnataka

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Western Ghats Task Force Board has now designated Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs) in more number of locations in the State. The plan of action is to have one MPCA in every district. The matter is being taken ahead in consultation with the Bangalore-based Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT). A meeting of scientists and officials of the state forest department would be held to discuss the plan of action, said Ananth Hedge Ashisara, chairperson Western Ghats Task Force.

In Karnataka, chief minister BS Yeddyurappa is the chairperson of the State Medicinal Plants Board. In the state budget of 2010-11, there has been an allocation of Rs 1 crore for conservation and preservation of medicinal plant varieties found in Siddharabetta area of Tumkur district.

The key reason for MPCA is to prevent the rampant smuggling of medicinal plant varieties. A stock taking meeting of the medicinal plant varieties is being done on Siddarabetta involving the panchyat members at Tumkur.

According to Ashisara, workshops on promotion, protection and preservation of medicinal plants varieties were chalked out for each of the eight districts of the Western Ghats belt. These are Dakshina Kannada, Hassan, Coorg, Shimoga and Chikmagalur.

In the meanwhile, Karnataka Medicinal Plant Board Authority (KMPBA) has submitted the state strategy for conservation and economic utilization of medicinal plants to the government. The main focus of the State strategy is to rework the supply from farm-to-firm rather than forest-to-factory. All the importance is provided to the supply of high quality raw material pricing. This will help the farmers to cultivate more medicinal plants in the wake of the growing demand from the domestic industry for supply to international markets. It will persuade public sector participation to ensure price stability and assured buying. There will also be Insitu-conservation of medicinal plant species in forests to boost its multiplication, biodiversity conservation and evolution.

The Himalaya Drug Company in 2008 had launched a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme based on the model of Engagement and Empowerment. The company in order to have access to superior quality herbs which are cultivated using organic farming practices, has been actively building linkages with small and marginal farmers through a network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The NGOs act as a liaison between Himalaya and the farmers.

The Foundation of Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT) has been associated with Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) to release three educational compact discs (CDs) on 'Medicinal Plants of Ayurveda'. The CDs on Plants of Ayurveda provides the traditional knowledge, conservation status of the plants, their natural distribution, and graphics to identify and locate besides dealing with the phyto-chemistry and the pharmacology of plants.


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