Herbal plantation-a boon for poor tribals

Herbal plantation-a boon for poor tribals
Highlights

Ayurvedic medicinal tree Agnimantha (Premna integrifolia) cultivation IS proving a to be a boon for tribal farmers of Melachuru village in Chittoor district. The Ayurvedic Herbal plant assures a good profit to the growers with a minimum investment. 

Ayurvedic medicinal tree Agnimantha (Premna integrifolia) cultivation IS proving a to be a boon for tribal farmers of Melachuru village in Chittoor district. The Ayurvedic Herbal plant assures a good profit to the growers with a minimum investment.

A team of 12 farmers belonging to Yandi community, a sub-sect of tribals in the district took up the cultivation of Agnimantha medicinal plant on experimental basis, with tie-up Ayurvedic major, Dabur, in 2013. The cultivation of Agnimantha Herbal Plant - which is prominently cited in Vedic texts as one of ten (Dasa mools) or ten important Ayurvedic herbs - is first-of-its kind in Andhra Pradesh.

An NGO, KOVEL, in association with Dabur took up the initiative of promoting the plantation of the herb among the tribals as part of its social service activities for improving their economic condition and selected Melathur as it was in the backward drought-prone Chittoor district. Dabur entered into a MoU for seed supply and also buying back the produce (roots) from the tribals.

The Hans India visited the herbal plantations in the sleepy village Melachur near the forest, 62 km from Tirupati. Two farmers Ramachandraiah and Subash started Agnimantha herbal plant cultivation on trial basis on a total of 0.5 acres each in 2014. They invested Rs 5,000 towards labour and costs for growing the herb and were amazed when the produce fetched them a return of Rs.50,000 through sale of Agnimantha roots.

They reaped the first harvest in a span of just six months. Since 2014, Dabur has been buying the roots at the rate Rs 90 per KG from tribal farmers thus yielding them good revenues which was much more than what they get from the cultivation of traditional crops like paddy and groundnut.

Presently under Srilakshmi cluster 12 farmers are cultivating Agnimantha in Melachur and Kalavagunta forest villages. More than 2000 KG Herbal plant roots are produced on 0.25 acre of land. The roots were sent to the Ayurvedic drug production units in Gujarat.

The NGO took the responsibility of maintaining nursery for the supply of Agnimantha plants to the farmers. Many farmers complained that the forest officials harassing them for giving permission to cut the plants when it is ready for harvest of its roots, despite the fact that it cannot be construed as forest produce.

``They are acting against the government policy of promoting organic practices and diversification of crops especially in the water stressed habitation of tribal community’’ a farmer lamented. KOVEL Foundation coordinator and Agnimantha nursery in charge, JV BhanuMurthy, informed that “Dabur is using these roots for production of Ayurvedic ortho drugs and that they were buying the produce regularly from tribals since three years”. We are concentrating on tribal farmers for their economic growth through adaption of advanced organic farming, crop diversification by switching to this herbal crop, Murthy added.

By K.Nethaji

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