Value addition, GI tagging of medicinal plants vital for tapping their economic potential: Experts
GANDERBAL: Experts have called that efforts to go for value addition and GI tagging of medicinal plants produced in Kashmir valley which would significantly improve the returns on these valuable products.
Adding that, these so far have failed to register their economic potential; given its clandestine trade in an unorganized sector.
While speaking at the inaugural session of a 25 day long skill development training programme by Agriculture Skill Council of India at SKUAST Faculty of Forestry the experts said that main aim of the programme is to encourage the youth to venture into the field of growing the medicinal plants and harvesting their hidden economic potential and help in conservation efforts.
Course director off the training programme Prof S A Gangoo during the inaugural sessions said that the whole Jammu and Kashmir region has been found to have 600 known medicinal plants mostly found in forests, with trade of these remaining unorganized and in disarray.
He added that the produce that is sourced from various forests across Jammu and Kashmir ultimately reaching the mandis across India with the real collectors only get peanuts for the collection.
He said that efforts by authorities to organize this medicinal plant growing sector under one roof is the need of the hour and to go for GI tagging of various plants available here, would significantly reap better revenues from the produce.
He called upon the trainees to focus on value addition and better packaging of these medicinal plants that are always in great demand, given their centuries old therapeutic use.
Citing an example of Dandelion (locally known as hand) he said that many of its variants imported from outside are available in markets across India and most products have even penetrated markets here, whereas we have been unable to tap the market.
He added that efforts are needed to harness the potential of this plant that grows widely across Kashmir and priorotorise marketing of its different variants.
Gangoo added that the programme is of significant importance as we want youth to be resource creators and they will not only learn about cultivation, scientific harvesting but help youth in developing the product range so as to generate income for themselves along with others.
About the 25 day programme he added that it has been devised wherein the trainees will attend lectures from eminent teachers, will be having field visits to many institutes that grow these products besides industrial visits on how product packaging is carried.
Dean Faculty of Forester Prof TH Masoodi said that the faculty has been continuously under the Skill India Mission programme conducting training for the youth to help them.
He hoped that this time around we will see more success stories from the trainees.
He added that the faculty will always be at the forefront to give the post-training support to the youth who venture into medicinal plant cultivation.
He said that faculty is making tireless efforts to develop its campus as a role model for those who want to seriously pursue propagating many medicinal plants.
ADC Ganderbal Farooq Ahmad Baba, who was the Chief Guest on the inaugural session called upon the trainees to take full benefit from the faculty experts and give attention to the course programme.
He praised the faculty for devising the whole programme on scientific lines so as to give the youth an overview of how to venture into this field.
Later the chief guest took a visit to the faculty and assured that many of the issues like providing potable water and electricity to hostels and improving road connectivity to faculty would be resolved by the district administration soon.
About 25 participants this year have been chosen for the tanning from different districts of the valley.
Mohamamd Arif Khan, one of the trainees from Lolab area in Kupwara told Kashmir Reader that even though he has knowledge of raising forest nursery, he would like to update himself about the growing of medicinal plants.
Another youth Muhammad Shamsudin Baba hailing from Gurez area said that their area is known for growing of various medicinal plants and he wants to take the profession on scientific lines that is why he has opted for the tanning.
The inaugural session was attended by the students of the faculty, besides heads of different divisions at the faculty along with experts from Indian Institute of Integrated medicine.
The programme has been sponsored by Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development, Calicut Kerala.