JAMMU : Forests in J&K constitute the largest land-based resource which can play a vital role in generation of employment and elevation of economic and social status of its subjects.
It is pathetic to observe that despite a lapse of seven decades post independence no policy whatsoever has been framed to harness the biggest source till date. With the rise of unemployment in the state clubbed with the highest ratio of unmarried eligible bachelors, new and innovative ideas are required to be floated not only to engage the youth of the state but also to augment revenue by adopting proper policies to tap the revenue resources which has yet not been done to the desired level.
Though Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Policy 2010 was formulated, on going through it a very lack luster approach appears in designing such policy as it no where mentions to produce and preserve the wild herbs which are in abundance in our state and are its real worth.
Whatever is envisaged in the said policy also does not appear to have any tangible impact and no review of implementation of such policy has been made to the public. Writer in this article will make an attempt to focus more on herbs and policies related to herbs.
Undoubtedly our UT is considered as a treasure trove of herbs having lot of medicinal value. Researchers have yet to fully explore the herbal worth of J&K. However, Dept. of Environment, Ecology and remote sensing of J&K Govt. in association with Centre for conservation of culture and heritage and Institute of hotel management, Srinagar organized a forest food festival on Oct 4, 2015 at Srinagar. The usage of more than 100 herbs were demonstrated to people. Some of the dishes were also prepared by using these herbs.
There are many challenges for keeping the forests and its produce intact for which a comprehensive and integrated policy with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders is required to be made.
The nomads of UT are dependent upon wild edibles which support their food security and lot of nutritional value but they are not aware of the economic worth of these products. These wild edibles include Gucchi (Morchella esculenta), Anardana, Bathua, Amlok, Amla, Kala jeera, Jamun and Ber, etc.
Nomads collect Junglee Pudinha, Ashwagandha, Sarpagandha which have got high medicinal properties from forest areas. There is grave need of knowing the importance, pattern of consumption and analysing the marketing intelligence of these herbs.
An institutionalized mechanism is required to be developed at the earliest regarding production, preservation and marketing of these WEPs for which are in abundance in the UT of J&K which may ultimately help in growth of AYUSH as well as upgradation of society in general and rural population in particular.