Whenever the word Bundelkhand comes to mind, the first thing that strikes the mind is the picture of a drought-proned areas, starving people, where farming is dependent on monsoon, and the only source of water is irrigation. But despite of all these, nature has blessed the placed with abundant indigenous medicinal plants or herbs. They are produced even in shortage of water.
Three decades ago there was a popular trend of using locally produced herbs in Bundelkhand region. They are usually available at any nearby location and people did not have to travel anywhere for that. The old generation was very much familiar with them, and for the people in the region before consulting doctors in the nearby towns they would rely on these herbs. With the penetration of allopathy medicines the usage of herbs started declining. Till to these days, these natural herbs are still produced in large scale in the Bundelkhand’s dry and rocky region.
Herbs like ashwagandha (withania somnifera), safed musli (chlorophytum barivilianum), punarnava (boerhavia) grow naturally in the forests of the region. Along with these plants, palash (butea monosperma) is found here in abundant. adusa (malabar nut), which is used in to treat cough, asthma and backache are found in plenty. Kaamraj herb, used to cure mouth ulcer and diarrhoea, and arjuna herb (terminalia arjuna), used to for heart diseases, are also found here in large scale. Unfortunately, these precious herbs have lost their glory and don’t get any attention.
Experts say that there is a lot of scope of medicinal farming in the region of Bundelkhand. Ginger farming is done by few farmers of the Bruasagar, near Jhansi. Ginger produced in this region is considered one of the best quality and is very famous as it enjoys demand in many nearby regions. In the region people use it during winters, ginger tea cures cold as well as treats the problem of constipations. Along with the ginger, farmers also cultivate aloevera as its demands is high these days.
Despite these fact, the produces are not marketed in the significant way which they deserve. In the forests of Jhansi, Orcha, Lalitpur, Chitrakoot and Shivpuri, herbs like jatamansi (spikenard), mahua, kher, giloy, bel and amla (indian gooseberry), are grown in huge quantity. If amla tree is given more care then its size increases to the size of an apple. All these herbs are a natives to Bundelkhand. Including these there are haridra, mustak, nagkesar, guggulu, bhrarangraj, apamarg, gunja and vacha, are also grow here.
Although the era of Ayurveda has now returned with efforts of the governments by launching AYUSH programme, but still these herbs of Bundelkhand are not being promoted and they are not getting their dues. The producers of these herbs do not have enough resources to market their produce which can lead them in getting appropriate benefit. Last year in Khelar, 20 km away from Jhansi, people cultivated musli and ashwagandha in their farms, but there was no option to publicise and market, so they stopped cultivating these herbs. Musli is famously known for curing sexual problems and increasing fertility in men.
It is not that the government is not investing in ayurveda; Jhansi has an institution for finding and research on ayurveda and herbs, known as National Dendrology Research Organization, established by the Central Government. It spreads over many acres of land and has around 20 officials and scientists. However, these people do not have any concern of ayurveda, Even though they get handsome salaries, they keep on sitting idle. According to reliable sources, there is the absence of a monitoring team due to which some employees get salaries by making fake attendance, and are usually found absent at their work places. When the Rural & Marketing team went there to collect some information regarding ayurveda, half of the employees were absent. Moreover, director of the organization Dr. Neelam Bhaarma does not have adequate information on the herbs found in Bundelkhand. Whereas this organization, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, was established to promote ayurveda with more research on herbs, plants and the trees that are found here.
If the Govt creates awareness in the villages of Bundelkhand, promotes medicinal farming and its production with proper marketing strategies, it will not only benefit the farmers but will also increase the revenue of the government and people will get traditional medicines of India. Attention should be paid by the pharamceutical companies so that the region can produce squality herbs. It would also help increase their revenues.