Medicinal herb farming is huge business in India and worldwide. The billion dollar industry is still growing with new discoveries of medicinal herbs. Farmers earn more than Rs3 lakh per acre cultivating herbs. The Indian government estimates a 10% annual growth in herbs and aromatic plants.
According to reports New Delhi farmers claim 4 times returns on investment making the industry one of the most lucrative. Main advantage in herb production is fast growth, low fertilizer requirements hardy plants. There is also a hug demand from pharmaceutical companies, beverage companies, herbal practitioners, local, international markets.
Things to consider before starting the business are large fertile land, sourcing seedlings or sprouts. Others include finance, labor, equipment, irrigation, fertilizer, herbicide, transportation and marketing.
- large fertile land
- sourcing seedlings or sprouts
Pests and diseases
Pest or diseases medicinal herbs differ from one plant to the other. Common pests/diseases are Aphids, Amar butterfly, scale insects, and caterpillars. We have fruit, leaf, vine rot, seed blight, seeding rot, spike disease, sandal wood beetle.
Common pests and diseases
- Amar butterfly
- Scale insects
- Sandal wood beetle
- Fruit rot
- Leaf rot
- Vine rot
- Seed blight
- Seeding rot
- Spike disease
Important Medicinal Herb Plants
An herb farmer needs to know important medicinal plants in demand. This will guarantee huge profit, premium price for the produce. Important medicinal plants in demand are Indian Barberry, Senna and Long Pepper. Others are Safed musu, Satavari, Shankapushpi. More are Isabgol, Jatamansi, Guggal, Giloe, Chirata. We have Chandan, Bael, Atis, Aonla and Aswahagandha.
- Indian Barbery
- Long Pepper
- Safed musu
Senna is a medicinal plant Cassia angustifolia vahi, family of Caesalpinaceae. Area under cultivation is 25000ha production requirement 22500t leaves, 7500t pods.
Plant yield and actual ingredients are leaves 2000 kg/ha, pods 1000 kg/ha (sennosides 2.5-3.5% in leaf and pods). Senna is grown in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu. Irrigation schedule is at thinning and sowing while propagation is via seed in June or July.
Safed Musli has huge annual demand of 500 t in herbal based pharmaceutical companies. An aphrodisiac drug and tonic used in Ayurvedic medicines.
Active ingredients are protein 0.5%, root fiber 4%, saponin 3%, carbohydrate 10-40%. Propagation method seed, irrigation after planting and interval of 2 weeks. Top producers are found in North Gujarat, South Rajasthan and Western MP.
Best soil for Shankapushpi cultivation is sandy loamy soil with ph. level 5.5 -7. Apply good drainage, organic matter, and deep plough method. Sowing involves seed broadcast mix with line sowing or sand. Hoe, weed appropriately while crop harvesting is January. The medicinal herb is used to treat cough, skin disorders, and hyperpyrexia.
Satavari is a climbing plant with tuberous roots that are harvested. The harvested roots are dried in sun washed and made into powder. The powdery substance is used to treat diarrhea, blood dysentery, and epilepsy.
Important parts of this plant is the leaves and root. Harvesting period is September to February and post-harvest management is drying of leaves and root. Uses include treatment of cough, asthma, diabetes, liver disorder.
Long pepper is a popular medicinal plant used to treat cough and bronchitis. Other applications are gout treatment, anorexia, insomnia etc. Farmers harvest the spikes or roots while compound preparations include Pipalyasva, Gudapippali and Pippalikhanda.