Recent Developments in Herbal and Medicinal Plants Sector with Reference to Trade

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The main occupation of majority of people living in rural India still continues to be agriculture. About 70% of the Indian population, including the rural and the tribal population is sustaining on traditional agricultural practices as a source of livelihood. Besides growing edible food crops like vegetables, fruits, cereals and pulses, the farmers also grow various types of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) which constitute an integral part of traditional home remedies. India is a land to about 17,000 species of higher plants, out of which 7500 are known for their therapeutic uses. Ayurveda, has alone reported approximately 2000 medicinal plant species, followed by Siddha and Unani. The Charak Samhita, an ancient written document with rich literature regarding herbal therapy, production of around 340 herbal drugs and their indigenous uses for curing various ailments and diseases. Presently, around 25% of herbal preparations are derived from plants materials. The following are the constituents found in herbal preparations: Constituents of Ayurveda and Unani Medicines

Herbal 95 % (major)
Minerals1-2 %
Metals1-2 %
Animal Products1-2 %
Marine Products1-2 %

The market demand around the world for herbal medicine is currently at $ 80 billion and is expected to reach US $ 5 trillion by 2050. Around 80% of the population around the world rely on The annual turnover of three of the major Indian systems of medicine namely Ayurveda, Unani and Sidha is estimated to be more than a billion dollar. The gap between demand and supply is estimated to be 200,000 tons, which is expected to rise to 400,000. Today, one fourth of the world population depends on traditional medicines. The reason behind the enormous growth in demand for Medicinal plants is due to their lesser side effects as compared to the allopathic preparations and the cost factor. India’s share in medicinal plant export in global trade is very low about 8.13% as against 28% of China. The reason behind this is the lack of policy support from the government; farmers prefer to grow edible food crops like cereals, pulses. There is vast potential for a country like India which is the home to around 45,000 plant species which is nearly 20% of the global species. If immediate steps are not taken, India will be losing the trade related opportunities to herbal medicine and its raw material. Indian medicinal and herbal products sector appears to be largely disorganized. What is, therefore, needed is to focus on overall development of herbal industry in India including market prospect, creation of entrepreneurship, promoting investments for sustainable cultivation, processing, storage and quality control.

Obviously, there is increasing demand by industries not only of medicinal plants for producing herbal products as essential raw material, & its cultivation, preservation, processing, packaging and transportation.

The growing apathy towards products made from chemical (allopathic) products and unsustainably harvested forest products becoming ethically unacceptable consumer goods, have created new markets for quality, certified and organic herbal products. Medicinal plants have the potential to fill these needs as they provide green health alternatives and members of other eco-friendly products of domestic and industrial usage and has entered into the world food and drugs market as the environment friendly.

2. Market Prospects for Herbal and Medicinal Plants Sector

Herbal medicinal market consists of herbal extracts, aloe vera products, volatile oils and other medicinal products of plant origin for internal and external use. Europe and the United States are the two major herbal products markets in the world. India and China are the two major suppliers. The domestic herbal market is estimated at Rs 4,000 crores. The global market size is estimated at US$ 60 billion and is projected to reach US$ 5 trillion by 2050. India’s export :...
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