Itanagar

Arunachal Pradesh has the highest geographic forest cover- Mama Natung

ITANAGAR-  Stakeholders from across the state including medicinal plants’ cultivators, government officials and scientists, and investors and experts from the region came together on Friday for a ‘buyer-seller meet’ exploring the ‘Prospect of Cultivation, Value Addition, Trade and Marketing of Medicinal Plants’.

Organised by the Arunachal Pradesh State Medicinal Plant Board in collaboration with the Regional-cum-Facilitation Centre (RFC-North East Region) of the Assam Agricultural University (AAU), the meet was held at the DK State Convention Centre with funds from the central AYUSH ministry’s National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB).

At the meeting, Environment and Forest Minister Mama Natung emphasised the importance of sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants from forests and to pursue the cultivation of medicinal plants to become ‘aatma nirbhar’.

Mama Natung said that “Arunachal Pradesh has the highest geographic (percentage) forest cover. We have been gifted with resources, many of which the common people do not know. I encourage the scientists and experts to explore and inform the government about them and I assure you support from the government,” Natung said.

The minister also said that the establishment of a research centre to develop the sector anywhere in the North East region will be a great opportunity to explore the region’s potential.

Natung added that the implementation of Taxas baccata plantation, a high-value medicinal tree species at Mechuka is a commendable move.

Speaking at the meet, advisor to the environment and forest ministry, Kumsi Sidisow, said that efforts must be made to conserve forest resources.

“There is a need to conserve medicinal plants and put a check on illegal trade and unscientific collection of medicinal plants,” he said, adding that cultivation of medicinal plants must be promoted and a robust marketing environment needs to be created.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NMPB, Dr JLN Sastry, who was also at the meet, called for developing the sector while ensuring that people’s livelihood demands were met.

“The conservation and cultivation of medicinal plants must go alongside the livelihood of the masses,” he said.

Sastry also said that the state’s climatic conditions are favourable for the cultivation of medicinal plants and that all possible help from the Centre will be extended to develop the sector. He said that organic certification can be easily acquired for produce from the Northeast since the use of chemical fertilisers is already minimal in the region.

The CEO suggested that cultivators must think of exports and proposed to set up a factory for the processing of medicinal plants from the region at Tezpur in Assam.

Earlier, state medicinal plant board CEO, T Gapak, informed the participants and guests about the working structure of the Board, its functions, and the work it has been doing.

He also spoke about what steps need to be taken to develop the sector in the state.

A number of globally significant medicinal plants like Coptis Teeta (Mishmi Teeta), illicium griffithii (star anise), Paris polyphylla, Taxus baccata (English yew), zanthoxylum armatum, Phoebe cooperiana, Myrica esculenta, Homalomena aromatica (Sugandhmantri) were showcased and gifted to the potential buyers.

The motive of the meet was to explore the sustainability of medicinal plants cultivation in the state and to frame a robust marketing mechanism to trade these plants and earn revenue and generate livelihood for the cultivators.

Before the meet began, saplings of Saraca asoca were also planted at IG Park. A book titled, Medicinal Pteridophytes of Arunachal Pradesh authored by Gapak was also released on the day.

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