Farmers in Himachal Pradesh are moving towards cultivation of herbal plants to earn more income and to save themselves from the wrath of wild animals and monkeys that destroy their crops.
The state government has already decided to cultivate herbs on a large scale to earn profit, an official spokesperson said.
He said a road map had been prepared to cultivate herbs across Himachal Pradesh and thirty seven herbal and aromatic species of medicinal plants had been selected for the project.
Herbal plants have shown good results all over the state, especially in the districts of Hamirpur, Una, Kangra, Chamba, Bilaspur and Mandi. Herbal gardens have already been developed in different climatic zones such as Jogindernagar, Neri, Rohru, Shimla and Jungal Thalera to motivate farmers.
Himachal is already the largest supplier of chilgoza, dioscorea, dhoop, picrorhiza, valerians and ephedra in the country.
However, new herbs like aloevera, harar, bahera and amla have been sown in the state and are in great demand all over India, especially by the ayurvedic pharmaceutical companies.
Bhuvnesh Singh of Nadaun area said he was happy with his decision to switch over to herbs as he no longer had to be bothered about loss of crops to wild animals.
A Kangra district-based herbs society, an organisation dedicated to promoting ayurveda, has initiated a new project dedicated to the utilisation of barren land of Himachal Pradesh for organic farming of herbs and medicinal plants and promotes herbal health tourism in the state.
RS Guleria, president of HARB Society, says it is their endeavour to promote ayurveda and ensure employment for Himachal youth in their home state. According to him, nearly 4,000 cultivators are associated with their project for organic farming.
"We are also providing employment opportunities to nearly 50,000 youth in Himachal Pradesh. We seek the participation and assistance of the state government to ensure a surge in the number in the time to come," he said.
Taking a cue from the popularity of herbs, the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has also adopted sixty villages to develop them as herbal villages under the Village Development Plan.
The NABARD officials are hopeful that with the cultivation of herbs on cultivable wasteland in the state measuring about 1, 23,000 hectares, the economy of the state will grow by leaps and bounds.