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Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru December 30 , 2020
In a major effort to give a boost to the medicinal plant sector, the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of Ayush, has envisaged the necessity of connectivity between stakeholders in the supply chain of medicinal plants. In this regard, the Board has now put in place a ‘Seed to Shelf’ mechanism to establish the linkage between the farmers and manufacturers.

This could enable aspects related to Quality Planting Materials, Good Agriculture Practices, and Good Post Harvest Practices to be addressed.  The NMPB Consortia, formed by the Board for t this purpose, will address and deliberate on quality planting material, research & development, cultivation, trade of medicinal plants/market linkage, among other related activities.

In the first phase, NMPB consortia is proposed for medicinal plant species covering Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Pippali (Piper longum), Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica), Guggulu (Commiphora wightii), and Satavari (Asparagus racemosus).

According to DBA Narayana, chief scientific officer, Ayurvide Trust, this is a long needed step to put cultivation of medicinal plants on a scientific footing, and promote lot of learnings in this field. It is a game changer for small and marginal farm land owners if they join such consortiums.

The board has called for eligible organizations like FPOs (famer producer organisations), Farmer Producer Company (FPC) , quality planting materials centres, seed banks, nurseries, shelf help groups(SHGs), non-governmental organisations, manufacturers, exporters, pharma research institutes and agriculture universities to register and be part of the consortia.

To further give a fillip to the sector of Ayush, the government had announced a Central Sector Scheme on conservation, development and sustainable management of medicinal plants. This has a component of marketing wherein proposals from reputed agencies having experience in the field on medicinal plants are being considered in project mode for commissioning studies. These cover documenting trade practices, generating information on wholesale prices, arrivals and trends in different markets to benefit both growers and buyers.
 
It also includes establishing communication network for speedy collection and dissemination of market data for its efficient and timely utilization. There is also considerable importance given to preparing farmer’s advisories and issuing the same for the benefit of farmers towards optimizing returns, developing databases of cultivators and cultivars. Integrating and mainstreaming of Medicinal Plants through call centres including Kisan call centres under the initiatives of ministry of agriculture. There is also focus on putting in place an appropriate pricing regime in respect of produce sourced from wild versus cultivation to reduce pressure on the natural resources.

Efforts are being made to streamline of Harmonized System (HS) Codes which is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded products throughout the export process. In order to cater to the domestic market needs of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) industry and promotion of primary producer companies (PPCs) would be taken-up in a focused manner.

In order to ensure seamless operations, information dissemination through IT dedicated mechanisms for to network Agri Mandis, database of cultivators, contract extractions, speciality warehousing & supply chain development, integration of all portals with techno Trade Exchange and Krishak Call Centres.

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