STATE TIMES NEWS SRINAGAR: Advisors to Governor, K Vijay Kumar and K Skandan on Thursday jointly chaired a meeting to discuss the potential of medicinal plants sector in the state, action plan for conservation, development and sustainable management of Medicinal Plants and structural support required for development of the State Medicinal Plant Board. The meeting also discussed the achievements already registered by SKUAST-Kashmir and other concerned agencies in the medicinal plant sector. Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K Prof Nazeer Ahmad, PCCF J&K Suresh Chugh, Chairman SPCB Ravi Kesar, CCF T Rabi Kumar, Regional Director RCFC Dr Sheikh Bilal, experts from SKUAST-K and other concerned officers attended the meeting. VC SKUAST-K along with his team of experts gave a detailed presentation regarding work done already in the field of medicinal plants by the University and the activities that are being carried out to explore the potential of medicinal plants and their cultivation for demonstration purpose at present. Work done at Faculty of Forests and at Division of plant biotechnology of SKUAST-K was also discussed in the meeting. Threadbare discussions were held on the role of both the Agricultural Universities of the state in rendering their support to the State Medicinal Plant Board, research work being carried out by them to know more about the medicinal plants that are being available in the state and its strategy to cultivate these plants with a commercial point of view. It was informed that around 571 different kinds of medicinal plants are available in the state out of which some are high end plants having high commercial and medicinal value. Role of Forest department in this sector was also reviewed and it was decided that the department would be playing a positive role in assisting the State Medicinal Plant Board in its activities and also providing every kind of support to get maximum benefits from the medicinal plant sector in the state. While discussing the action plan, it was stressed that for making the medicinal plant sector of the state sustainable, State Medicinal Plant Policy needs to be framed. The Advisors asked SMPB to study the policies of other states and prepare a draft by taking out best practices from them also in consonance with the National Medicinal Plant Policy. It was also decided that a database having details of the medicinal plants that are available in the state must be created along with the value assessment of the products to get its commercial value. Further, it was told that the cultivation of high end (commercially viable) plants and research oriented work would be taken care of by the Agricultural Universities of the state and Forest department also to take up cultivation of plants at their nurseries and other identified places. Stress was also laid on re-generation of the species which are rare so that the fear of extinction of such plants can be taken care of. With regard to the awareness programme, the Advisors asked VC SKUAST-K to organize a Seminar/Workshop on the topic soon involving experts from other states, faculty/students from Agricultural Universities, Forest Officers, Forestry Scholars/Graduates and other stakeholders so that participants can share their expertise on the subject with others and make value addition to their existing knowledge. Meanwhile, the participants discussed all important issues including conservation and development of medicinal plants in the state, need of revisiting the law/regulation of existing trade practices, promotion of commercial cultivation of priority species, establishment of nurseries for production of quality planting material, marketing platform/channels etc.
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