US$ 9 mn spent on importing herbal plants – Minister

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Sri Lanka spends US$ 9 million a year to import herbal plants such as Aralu and Bulu required for indigenous medicine .

Experts point out that although there are enough medicinal plants in Sri Lanka such as Aralu, Bulu and Nelli used in Ayurvedic and Indigenous medicine, Sri Lanka spends around US$ 9 million a year to import them from India.

These facts were revealed at a meeting of the Presidential Task Force on Green Economy with Solutions to Climate Change held at the Environment Ministry last week.

The Task Force proposed a comprehensive plan to be implemented in the country to ensure that these plants can be grown in all parts of Sri Lanka.

Task Force Chairman, Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera stated that under the National Tree Planting Programme implemented by the Environment Ministry, a programme will be initiated to cultivate these trees in the forest areas as well as on road sides.

Although there are medicinal plants such as Aralu and Bulu in almost all parts of the country at present there is no programme in place to collect them in a systematic manner, the Minister said. “We do not need to import such local medicines from India.There are enough resources in the country but there is no formal programme in this regard and such a programme could be initiated in consultation with the Indigenous Medicine Ministry,”he said.

The Nilgala forest has a large number of such medicinal plants and the Task Force will take steps to cultivate such plants in other forest areas as well, he said.

He also pointed out that one of the reasons for the damage to food crops by wild animals is the lack of enough fruit trees in the forests to feed them. Therefore, the Presidential Task Force could initiate a programme to plant more fruit trees such as Etamba and Valu Amba in the forests, the Minister said. 

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Chandana Sesath Jayakody

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