Agharkar Institute, RGSTC create database of 400 medicinal plants in Maharashtra

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Sunday, 25 February 2018

Pune: India has always been known for its use of medicinal plants to cure diseases and ailments, but there was no proper database of important medicinal plants available in Maharashtra and for that matter across the country. However, now, Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) in collaboration with Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission (RGSTC) has created a database of 400 species of Maharashtra, which have important medicinal properties. Many of these species are specific to the State. 

Pune: India has always been known for its use of medicinal plants to cure diseases and ailments, but there was no proper database of important medicinal plants available in Maharashtra and for that matter across the country. However, now, Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) in collaboration with Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Commission (RGSTC) has created a database of 400 species of Maharashtra, which have important medicinal properties. Many of these species are specific to the State. 

While talking to Sakal Times exclusively, one of the researchers and former AGI employee Vinaya Ghate said, “If we fail to take decisive steps with a strategic planning over the fast depleting habitat, then the future of the medicinal plants would be in danger."

"There are few species like Kadu Kawat categorised under the occasional category, which now have become endemic. This particular plant is high in demand due to its medicinal properties," she said, adding that they collected the data from the actual field, then talked to tribals, tribal sellers, traders and buyer industries.

"The analysis we did clearly shows that the species categorised under commoners now has a change in status. We did this classification on the basis of habits and habitat of the species. As the evergreen forest patches are limited, the species specific to this habitat have become endemic while there are a few species that are specific to moist or dry deciduous forests that can sustain outside their environment," she further added. 

Ghate said, “This was the first time the actual field mapping of the plants was been done. Earlier, there were a few attempts done, but they were not so rigorous. We have mapped 34 districts of the State over four years and collected the existing plant data. For the first time, detailed with a photographic guide, voucher herbarium specimen, partly used as medicine, diagnostic characters and their actual status map of occurrence. This inventory will be a model for other Indian states."

"Along with RGSTC and ARI, we had 14 collaborators from the State that worked on the project,” said Ghate. 

She said, “I and Anuradha Upadhaye, ARI, started working on it in 2009. We have not studied the effect of climate change on the plants, but yes since the wet patches have declined, the number of medicinal plants that are specific to this environment have been categorised under rare species."

"By the end of 2012, the report was ready, but since the country lacks strategic data on how to release this data, nearly two years were wasted. Then we framed some strategic rules and regulations, there were a few rectifications, changes and then the book was released by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday in Mumbai," she said. 

Custodians
- Forest department
- Maharashtra State Medicinal Plant Board
- Biodiversity Board

About data
- The data is open to all but there are a few markings which are reserved
- 3,200 locations were mapped
- 34 districts of the State
- A total of 400 important medicinal species, 157 of which are commercially high valued species, were mapped at 1,710 locations
- Trade data of 104 species was documented 

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