One of the most highly coveted and renowned plant with almost every therapeutic property imaginable has to be Panax Ginseng, or Ginseng as is more commonly known throughout the world. The medicinal plant which have gained almost magical reputation for being able to promote health, general body vigour, to prolong life and treat many ailments including depression, diabetes, fatigue, ageing, inflammations, internal degeneration, nausea, tumours, pulmonary problems, dyspepsia, vomiting, nervousness, stress, and ulcers for thousands of years have not yet ceased to amaze the world with its almost endless list of health benefits and properties, with more and newer discoveries being made with each passing day. Perhaps the genus Panax derived from the Greek word meaning Panacea or ‘all healing’ is a testimony to the proven efficacy of this wonder plant.
Manipur is naturally endowed with an ecosystem which is conducive to the growth of this plant, and people in the hills have been foraging the forests and the hills for these wonder plants for ages which fetch them handsome prices even in the local market, while a kilo of this plant in the national market can earn more than 3000 rupees. The only catch is that these plants are categorized as forest products and are banned from commercial transactions without the approval of the forest department. Arrests of individuals trying to smuggle ginseng roots by the security forces are still frequently being reported.
The reluctant stand of the state government regarding the development of natural cultivation centers for these highly prized and high value plants is beyond anyone’s comprehension. Instead of spending resources on trying to stem the smuggling of Ginseng and other such valuable medicinal plants, which will always be a futile exercise, it is time the state government take proactive steps to draw up a comprehensive and enduring plan of action so that the people of the state can benefit from the systematic cultivation of these plants under expert guidance. With the present demand for these plants, there will not be any dearth of buyers or markets, and the growers can be assisted by state agencies to fetch the best price. If the state government is eager and willing, a processing unit can even be set up which will provide value addition to the product enabling profit maximization and generating both employment and earnings. There have been reports of big processing firms expressing interests in procuring various medicinal plants and products from the state in large quantities, and if the state government can negotiate a favorable terms for the people of the state, there is a huge potential for the state to become the supplier of these coveted herbs and plants and bring in huge revenues. Such a situation will also positively affect the people and will definitely help in alleviating the numerous social disturbances arising out of the increasing lack of earning opportunities. But time is of the essence, and the state government should realize that despite its seemingly vigilant watch over the natural resources, there will be smugglers who are ready to take chances as long as the pickings are generous.