The Punjab government has decided to promote cultivation of medicinal plants at 20,000 hectare forest area of Pathankot district.
Through this initiative, the State government aims to provide a source of income to people living in hilly areas and also to create a force of forest guards.
“Punjab hills soil is very fertile for cultivation of various medicinal herbs so we have decided to promote growing medicinal plants” said divisional forest officer Pathankot range Sanjiv Tiwari.
More than 74 Self Help Groups (SFG) are being provided required technical know-how for medicinal plants. Special emphasis is on the cultivation of amla(Indian gooseberry), lemongrass, harar, bahera, tulsi(basil) etc.
Many villages have already started the cultivation. The State Government is providing tin sheds, shredding machines, automatic drying machines, utensils etc. This will make the manufacturing of ayurvedic medicines easy.
SFG mostly comprise of women who took up cultivation of medicinal plants for an added source of income.
‘On an average one person can earn around Rs 100 while doing their regular work. There are two pronged benefits of the scheme, one- the poor people will get additional source of income and second that they will be a voluntarily guarding forest by informing department about encroachers, poachers or those who deliberately set fire to forest areas’ added Tiwari.
The government hopes that the initiative will not only protect the forest area but also expand forest cover in the state.