India is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of biodiversity, has 15 agro-climatic zones. Out of the 17000-18000 species of flowering plants, more than 7000 are estimated to have medicinal usage in folk and documented systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha & Homoeopathy (AYUSH System of Medicine).
Medicinal plants are not only a major resource base for the traditional medicine & herbal industry but also provide livelihood and health security to a large segment of Indian population. About 1178 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade of which 242 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tons/year. The domestic demand of medicinal plants has been estimated 1,95,000 MT for the year of 2014-2015 and export demand of medicinal plants has been estimated 1,34,500 MT during 2014-2015. Total consumption of herbal raw drug in the country for the year 2014-15 has been estimated at 5,12,000 MT with corresponding trade value of ₹ 5,500 Crore. The major increase has been recorded in export value which has increased from ₹ 345.80 Crore in 2005-06 to ₹ 3211 Crore in 2014-15, registering a nine fold increase in during last decade.
In order to promote medicinal plants sector, the Government of India has set up National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) on 24th November 2000. Currently the board is located in Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha & Homoeopathy), Government of India. The primary mandate of NMPB is to develop an appropriate mechanism for coordination between various ministries/ departments/ organizations in India and implements support policies/programs for overall (conservation, cultivation, trade and export) growth of medicinal plants sector both at the Central /State and International level.
In recent years cultivation of medicinal plants has started gaining momentum. However, still a significant part of our requirements continue to be met from wild sources. To meet increasing demand for medicinal plants, the NMBP focusses on in-situ & ex-situ conservation and augmenting local medicinal plants and aromatic species of medical significance. The NMPB also promote research & development, capacity building through trainings, raising awareness through promotional activities like creation of Home/School herbal gardens. NMPB also support programs for quality assurance and standardization through development of Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACPs), development of monographs laying down standards of quality, safety and efficacy; development of agro-techniques and credible institution a mechanism for certification of quality of raw drugs, seeds and planting material. Overall, NMPB’s main objective is the development of medicinal plants sector through developing a strong coordination between various ministries/ departments/ organizations for implementation of policies / programs on medicinal plants.