Development of organic cultivation of medicinal plants in the North India
Out of 750,000 known plants in the world, a major part are medicinal and aromatic plants – a source of raw material for folk and documented systems of medicines worldwide. The folk and documented medicine in India use about 6,000 plants, although, less than 50 species have been scientifically studied and cultivated to any sizeable extent. The main factor behind the slow pace of domestication of medicinal plants is the absence of knowledge on cultivation practices and lack of suitable technology. About 90% of the medicinal plants for trade are harvested from the wild and the demand for traditional medicinal plants is increasing rapidly. Continuous exploitation of several medicinal plant species from the wild has resulted in their population decline. Hence, an effective strategy is needed for their sustainable utilization and conservation. Cultivation is the most effective way of conservation. Cultivation can also ensure production of standardized raw materials. Thereby, enhances the quality of the manufactured products. The methods and techniques of modern chemical agriculture cannot be adopted for the cultivation of medicinal plants as they should be free from harmful residues. Pesticides and other harmful chemicals have been detected in some herbal products. Hence, to ensure a safe, residue-free and reliable material for use in herbal drug industry, there is an urgent need to adopt strategies for cultivation of medicinal plants that are consistent with principles of good agricultural practices.