Sustainable development of medicinal and aromatic plants as potential cash crops for the welfare of rural people in eastern India
Due to the varied agro-climatic conditions of the eastern part of rural India (West Bengal), the area is rich in various medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). These are used for the health care of rural people but also could be used to improve the economic growth of rural Bengal, if properly protected and promoted. Research on the status of widely distributed MAPs in the area has examined their traditional use, biodiversity, threats, and conservation. In addition, experiments have been conducted to test how some of the potential MAPs can be used as non-traditional, profitable cash crops for rural economic development. The study clearly revealed the importance of local traditional knowledge for their sustainable development towards health care and profitable alternative crops using waste land. The research recognized that important MAPs are endangered due to biotic and abiotic factors and tried to conserve them by ex situ conservation. Eight potential MAPs in south Bengal and six anti-diabetic plants in North Bengal have been recognized as target species and have been successfully conserved. Based on a clinical trial, Gymnema sylvestre proved to be the most effective against diabetes. Optimum agronomic requirements and physical and chemical factors conducive for growth and development of two potential aromatic grasses, Cymbopogon flexuosus (lemon grass) and Cymbopogon martini (palmarosa), have been analyzed for proper conservation and successful cultivation. This study established the possibility of commercial exploitation of the two aromatic grasses as non-traditional cash crops for the welfare of rural people to improve the rural economy of West Bengal, India.
Ghosh, M. and Chatterjee, S.K. (2016). Sustainable development of medicinal and aromatic plants as potential cash crops for the welfare of rural people in eastern India. Acta Hortic. 1125, 201-208
MAPs, conservation, utilization, rural economy, eastern India