Indian herbal industry is at blooming stage, however cultivation of medicinal plants is not so easy. It is a challenging task because less is known about their seed biology. Many efforts have not been made to search elite specimens and their propagation. Current cultivation practices of medicinal plants are unsatisfactory and involved destructive harvesting. There is a need for a scientific approach for propagation of medicinal plants and to collect relevant information regarding agro technology, genuine planting material, economics of field cultivation, high yielding varieties etc.
Scientific cropping of industrially important medicinal plant is a integrated approach with agricultural and forestry with optimum land and water resources utilization. In India, various medicinal plants are cultivated and domesticated, therefore, international trade is looking to procure medicinal plant materials from India for the production of pharmaceutical, neutraceutical and cosmeticeutical preparations. India is also making efforts for cultivation, collection, characterization, planned hybridization programmes for the improvement of plant species and conservation of medicinal plants, restoring their genetic resources for commercial cultivation.
Indian farmers are facing various problems in cultivation of medicinal plants because of lack of agro-technology, high fees for packages developed by various organizations, lack of planting material, lack of appropriate standards, poor quality control regimes, inadequate research and development efforts, lack of exact market information, dominance of traders and non-existence of the local markets for medicinal plants are deterring the farmers. Knowledge of post-harvest processing technology of plants for the extraction of chemicals and preparations of active formulations is still needed. For this purpose one has to take help of research organizations, private institutes, farmers, NGOs and public sector institutes etc. for better technical know-now of cultivation and post-harvest techniques of medicinal plants.
Since herbs are produced mainly for the export market, the quality of these herbs can be maintained as per the international requirements. This can be achieved through adoption of good agricultural practices and organic farming. At present, there is considerable gap between demand and supply of medicinal plants. Such an alarming situation forces systematic research efforts for development of proper agro-technology, multiplication of planting material and commercial cultivation of these plants. Thus before taking up the medicinal plant cultivation, farmers should bear in mind the above requirements and constraints. Linking of farming with market in medicinal plant will take time. Therefore farmers should ensure sell of their produce before cultivation. So, with such a plan we can progress and prosper in the field of medicinal plants and achieve an enviable position to lead the world in the trade of medicinal plants.