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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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Indian herbs to be produced in Lanka

Forty-four herbs used in ayurvedic medicine which were earlier imported from India, are now being cultivated under the "Osu Gammana" and "Herbal Farm Garden" projects implemented by the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine.

Sri Lanka is now self-sufficient in some herbs such as "Katuvalbatu" and "Ginger" said the Minister of Indigenous Medicine, Tissa Karalliyadda. Fortunately Sri Lanka commenced cultivation of ayurvedic herbs under the "Osu Gammana" and "Herbal garden" projects in 2005.

India, our main raw material supplier banned the export of herbs and more recently India banned the export of sesame seed. If we did not launch cultivation projects a few years ago, we would have faced a serious situation today, he said.

"Research has proved that all herbs-long-term and short-term plants can be cultivated in Sri Lanka. Rare and expensive herbs such as Kunkumappu which costs Rs. 25,000 a kilogramme can be cultivated in Pattipola and in high elevations - 5,000 metres above sea level. Devedara, Rathadun, Sudu hadun, Aralu, Nelli and Bulu are also now cultivated under the herbal cultivation projects, he said.

Herbal farm village projects are being implemented in 54 Provincial Secretary divisions in 15 districts with over 4,000 farmers. Five herbal garden cultivation projects have been launched in Nikeweratiya, Peella, Medawachchiya, Karuwalagaswewa and Meegahajandura.

The short and long-term herbal plants will be supplied to the Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation (SLADC), he said.

According to the Minister quality ayurvedic medicine is also manufactured by the SLADC and leading private sector ayurvedic medicine manufacturing organisations to meet the local and foreign demand.

The Minister said that a survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that 70 per cent of the population in developing countries depend on traditional systems of medicine to find solutions for their health problems. The situation in Sri Lanka is no different, he said.

Under the "Mahinda Chintana" concept Hela Weda Punarudha, the resurgence of the system of traditional medicine was implemented to serve the majority of the people in Sri Lanka.

The results and the progress of the project are visible. In the 2008 Budget Rs. 57,800 million was allocated to the Western medical sector and only Rs. 1,329 million was allocated to the traditional medical sector. Funds will be allocated to the traditional medical sector to continue its projects, he said.

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