CONSERVING MANIPUR’S MEDICINAL PLANTS
As part of both the sub-Himalayan and Indo-Burman biodiversity hotspots, Manipur has the richest reservoir of plant life in the entire subcontinent.
These plants are the raw materials for the medicines that form the basis of maibarol, the indigenous Manipuri healthcare system. Together with other crops, they also provide a key livelihood for a large segment of the local population.
However, insufficient efforts are being made to ensure the long-term availability of Manipur’s bioresources, in the face of increasing demand, population growth and destruction of habitats.
For most endangered plant species, no conservation action has been taken and there is very little material of them in gene banks. Reliable data about individual plants and their medicinal properties are also severely lacking.
This project aims to prevent Manipur’s unique plant resources from becoming extinct by identifying, conserving and studying them in a responsible and sustainable way, both in their natural environment and in the BBRC’s botanical garden and herbarium.
We are also establishing an organic farm where other high value crops will be grown using an integrated farming system based upon sustainability and the enhancement of soil fertility, which prohibits synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Our guiding principle for all elements of this project is to work with local people, with the long-term aim of creating wealth, providing purpose and adding value to their lives. We aim to ensure that the indigenous medicinal and culinary uses of these bioresources are not lost to future generations in Manipur.
The conservation of medicinal plant populations in their natural wild environment, the ‘sacred groves’ of Manipur, and the sustainable collection and conservation of these bioresources within the safe confines of the BBRC’s botanical garden and herbarium.
The taxonomical categorisation of these plants (establishing their botanical identity) and the development of research, education and training programmes aimed at ensuring their long-term preservation and use. Ultimately, we will produce a database of Manipur’s medicinal and aromatic plant resources.
To reverse the deforestation that is currently blighting Manipur, the BBRC is implementing a re-forestation programme. Many people in Manipur are dependent on firewood and charcoal collected from the forests for furniture and cooking. The use of firewood in Manipur is much higher than the nationwide average. In response, BBRC is researching sustainable alternatives that will benefit the environment and the people dependant on wood for fuel.
To assist local farmers to identify high-value organic crops and produce them in a sustainable, ecologically responsible and commercially viable way. To advise local producers on cooperative marketing and route-to-market strategies.
To begin scientific testing and research of Manipur’s medicinal plants and trialling them using international standards so the plants can be developed and used in a way that benefits patients and the Manipuri growers and producers alike.
“The worth of a civilization can be judged by the place given to women in the society" K.S. Bhalla
The women (or Ima) of Manipur play a central role in the social, cultural and political life of local communities. In ‘Ima Tales’ we will share some of the Manipuri women’s homegrown wisdom, bringing you stories about the traditional remedies, recipes and other indigenous practices that make Manipur such a distinctive place. Click here to find out more…
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