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Medicinal Plants Cultivation
Medicinal plants distributed across Himalayas are normally slow growing and takes long period of 2-3 years to complete the life-cycle. Commercial consumption has threatened the availability of medicinal plants in the Himalayas. The cultivation of medicinal plants is inevitable to feed the rising demand of industry. Keeping in view the demand and threat to this valuable resource, efforts were made to develop ex-situ propagation techniques and agro-technology package for commercial cultivation of selected Himalayan species. During last one decade success was achieved in standardization of agro technology package for commercial cultivation of Swertia species. Commercial cultivation of Chirata (Swertia) was initiated with active participation of local women in their revenue land for diversification of agriculture and livelihood. Women were trained in sowing, weeding and maintenance of the crop. Cultivation practices were free of chemical fertilizers and farmers used vermicompost to meet nutritional requirements. All women cultivating Chirata were provided vermiculture to prepare vermicompost.

Women/farmers involved in cultivation of Chirata were regularly monitored on day to day basis through visit and personal contact to understand and solve their problems. Observation of the performance of the crop sown in 2009 revealed that around 400 farmers out of 507 harvested around 2,500-3,000 Kg first crop for marketing. Commercial cultivation of Chirata on such a scale involving more than 1000 farmers and cultivating around 70 hectare area is one of the largest cultivation effort of any Himalayan medicinal plant species. To sustain this activity lot of support is required in terms of marketing and convince the ayurvedic/pharmaceutical drug manufactures to accept material from cultivation. Picrorhiza kurrooa (Karoo) is another species in the process of cultivation for further diversification of Himalayan medicinal plants cultivation....