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Awareness on medicinal plants yet to catch up

Staff Reporter

Global demand for the products is $ 50 billion, says marketing expert

CHENNAI: Though herbal medicines and supplements are increasingly being recognised world wide, awareness on medicinal plants and export opportunities are yet to catch up in India, speakers observed in a seminar held here recently.

Participating in the seminar organised on opportunities in medicinal plants and herbal products by ITCOT, V. Sridharan, principal vice-president, said while China exported Rs. 20,000 crores worth of herbal medicines and supplements, India exported only Rs. 500 crores.

Ensuring good manufacturing and laboratory practices, efficacy of final product and quality control for value added products would bring about greater price realisation than merely exporting raw materials in the form of leaves and roots, he suggested.

Noting that medicinal plants based on Indian System of Medicine comprising Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy had least side effects, he said Nutraceutical supplements based on herbal plants, such as garlic, turmeric and spirulina were emerging into trend across the world. However, people in India hesitated to use such health supplements on fear of being branded as patients as compared to Europeans who used six or seven times daily.

T.S. Vidya Sagar, a nutraceutical marketing consultant, spoke about the huge potential for nutraceuticals due to its advantages such as simplified and effective dosage.

He said the global demand for the products was of the order of $ 50 billion and products based on black pepper, chillies, saffron and fenugreek had good potential.

T. Thirunarayanan of Centre for Traditional Medicine and Research, Chennai, spoke on selection of plants for cultivation based on local feasibility.

He also listed short term, medium term and long term plants, which are profitable. Giving tips on cultivation, he said technical inputs by agronomists and management experts must be taken into account.

He said collection and procession of medicinal plants provided at least 3.5 crore work days annually to underprivileged, majority of whom were tribal women.

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