The Central Government told to the Parliament that although the area under cultivation of medicinal plants has declined, the export value of the plants’ products has increased in the last five years.
The Union Ministry of AYUSH is implementing the ‘medicinal plants’ component of the NAM (National AYUSH Mission) scheme, which involves the market-driven cultivation of prioritised medicinal plants in specified clusters/zones within selected districts.
Support is given under the scheme for the cultivation of prioratised medicinal plants on farmer’s land, the establishment of nurseries with backward linkages for the raising and supply of quality planting material, post-harvest management with forward linkages, primary processing, marketing infrastructure, and other related activities.
Under this scheme, subsidies of 30%, 50% and 75% of the cost of cultivation of specific plant species are granted for the cultivation of 140 medicinal plants, respectively.
Although a total area of 48,040 hectares was supported for the cultivation of medicinal plants under NAM from 2015-2016 to 2019-2020, almost one-fourth of this was done in 2016-2017.
From 8.509.91 hectares in 2015-16, the area under the scheme increased to 12.462.249 hectares in 2016-17. The area decreased from 10,328.52 hectares in 2017-2018 to 6,794.12 hectares in 2019-20.
In reality, UP accounted for more than two-thirds of the country’s total medicinal plant area in 2018-19. The share of UP was 3,633.44 hectares out of a total area of 9,945.47 hectares that year. Intriguingly, UP’s share in 2019-20 was zero, with no clarification given in the answer.
West Bengal, which initially brought 107 hectares under the scheme in 2015-16, steadily increased the area under cultivation to 748.38 hectares in 2019-20.
Value of exports has increased
Despite the reduction in region under the NAM scheme and a decrease in export rate, the value of exported commodities has increased over the five years from 2015-16 to 2019-20.
As per the Centre’s response, in 2015-2016 India exported 15,971,307 tonnes of herbs under ITC HS codes 1211. This amounted to 10,797,243 tonnes in 2019-20. However, the value of exports risen from USD 23.25 million in 2015-2016 to USD 26.69 million in 2019-20. The reply provided details of some of the ITC HS codes starting in 1211.
The export of chirata (ITC HS code 12119091) decreased from 25,25 tonnes in 2015-2016 to 4,6 tonnes in 2019-20. Export value also decreased from USD 22,187 to USD 12,427 over the period.
Although the Tukmaria export (ITC HS code 12119092) continued to increase from 730,83 tonnes in 2015-16 to 968,63 tonnes in 2019-20, the export value decreased from USD 89,304 to USD 68,626 during the time frame.
Under the NAM scheme, the Union Government has extended financial support to the tune of Rs 191.64 crore in the past five years for growing medicinal plants in the country by providing subsidies to 140 identified medicinal plants.
AP (Rs 12.40 crore), MP (Rs 21.04 crore), UP (Rs 24.09 crore), West Bengal (Rs 11.34 crore) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 11.04 crore) were some of the major beneficiaries of the scheme over the last five years.