There have been innumerable workshops conducted on sustainable development of medicinal plant that showcased the rich potential of the state regarding the abundant availability of medicinal plants. Experts opined that of about six thousand varieties of plants containing medicinal properties, about one thousand two hundred varieties are found in the state, a staggering amount by any yardstick. The possibilities these revelations throws up would only be limited by one’s imagination. Such valuable information also presents a very positive prospect for the mushrooming entrepreneurs who are gearing up to make a mark in various fields, given the fact that employment generation rate by the state government is nothing to write about. And yet, if and when one decides to act on those possibilities, it takes much more than a fertile imagination, or even detailed knowhow and enthusiasm. One would certainly need a certain amount of investment. One would also require a support system from the government which is conducive to the initiative, hassle-free licensing and other formalities to speed up the activities. And above all, there would be a necessity of assisting the marketing of such products by the government so that the entire effort pays off. This is easier said than done, especially in as volatile and uncertain a state as ours. The government, to start with, could bring out a compendium on the available medicinal plants, their uses, local names as well as their natural places of occurrence which would give a very good idea of the significance of such medicinal plants to the general public. This will, in turn, enable them to help in the conservation and production of these valuable resources. There has been much talk on ushering of industrialization in Manipur, and yet precious little has been done for sustainable progress and economic development. Construction of a few sheds or buildings and labeling them as trade centers or business houses, without even the basic requirements and facilities for the proposed objectives does not count as contributing to development or industrialization, nor does the organizing of melas, fairs and festivals where the main emphasis has always been on displaying a few local products for the benefit and knowledge of the local people.
The world is waking up to the benefits and significance of natural and organic products, be it for food, cosmetic or medicinal purposes. There cannot be a better time to seize the opportunity to harness the yet untapped potential these vast resources of medicinal plants represent in terms of economic gains. In fact, it could prove to be the most profitable and sustainable means of income for the whole of the state. It only remains for the state government to draw up a roadmap to enlighten, encourage and ensure that such an opportunity to provide an easy, sustainable and limitless economic benefit to its people does not go wasted by setting up a Research & Development wing, an economic support system, an incubation unit to provide assistance regarding management and other administrative matters to the start-ups and a marketing cell to make sure the products are properly advertised and dispersed to every corner of the country and beyond.
The farmers and potential entrepreneurs need to be shown the bigger picture and their role in the whole system as well as the benefits they stand to enjoy which is one of the biggest incentives for taking up such initiatives. Given the track record and the penchant of the state government for promoting itself, the task should not pose any problem if it applies the same enthusiasm and effort.
Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A National level Rugby player and a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]