Indian Herbal Trading Scenario on Global Perspectives
Unani Hakims, Indian Vaids, and European and Mediterranean cultures have been using herbs for over 4000 years. Herbs have been used in healing rituals and developed into traditional medical systems such as Unani, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine.
Among ancient civilizations, India is renowned as a rich repository of medicinal plants. The Indian forests are a storehouse of a large number of medicinal and aromatic plants, which are largely used for the manufacture of drugs and perfumery products.
Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Folk (tribal) medicines are the major systems of indigenous medicines. Amongst these, Ayurveda and Unani are the most developed and widely practised in India.
In developed countries like USA, plant drugs constitute only 25% of the total drugs, while in developing countries such as India and China, the contribution is as much as 80%. Thus, the economic importance of medicinal plants is much more in countries such as India than the rest of the world.
Majority of India’s population still relies on the herbal system of medicine. Though there is no separate category of herbal drugs or dietary supplements as per the Indian Drugs Act, over 70% of the population uses herbal drugs for their health. This is because herbal drugs and Indian medicinal plants are a rich source of beneficial compounds including antioxidants and components used in functional foods.
An event in New Delhi recently announced that India is the second largest exporter of medicinal plants in the world. With 6,600 medicinal plants, India ranks second to China, and together they produce over 70 percent of the herbal medicine’s demand across the globe.
The current value of the Indian herbal market is at Rs 5,000 crores with an annual growth rate of 14%.
Status of India in Herbal Drug Export
The total value of world herbal trade is currently at USD 120 billion. India exported herbs worth of USD 330.18 Million during 2017-18 with a growth rate of 14.22% over the previous year. Also, the export of value-added extracts of medicinal herbs / herbal products during 2017-18 was USD 456.12 Million with a growth rate of 12.23% over the previous year.
Indian government has taken the following measures to further promote India’s export of herbal products:
- The promotion of Herbs and Medicinal Plants has been assigned to Shellac & Forest Products Export Promotion Council (SHEFEXIL), headquartered at Kolkata. The export promotion of several Herbal Products has been assigned to Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXCIL), besides others.
- Market Access Initiative (MAI) of Department of Commerce provides financial assistance to the EPCs / Trade Bodies to participate and organise Trade Fairs, Buyer Seller Meets (BSMs), Reverse Buyer Seller Meets (RBSMs), Research & Product Development, Market Studies, etc.
- Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) provides incentives to the exporting community for specified goods, especially to those which are of India’s export interest and have the capability to generate employment and enhance India’s competitiveness in the world market.
- International Co-operation Scheme of AYUSH Ministry provides financial assistance to the exporters for the participation in Trade Fairs, organising International Business Meets & Conferences and product registration reimbursements.
- The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India has launched a “Voluntary Certification Scheme for Medicinal Plants Produce (VCSMPP)” to encourage the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Field Collection Practices (GFCPs) in medicinal plants. This will enhance the availability of the certified and quality medicinal plants raw material in the country, boost their export, and increase India’s share in the global export of herbs.
- Ministry of AYUSH through its Quality Certification programme like AYUSH and Premium mark helps in setting up of quality standards.
- Ministry of AYUSH has entered into MoUs with few countries for promotion of traditional medicine which will help exports in the long run.