CHITRAL, Oct 22: Twenty-two species of medicinal plants used by the pharmaceutical industry have been identified in different highlands and pastures across the district, while the local residents are being trained on how to collect, store and process them on commercial scale.
This was stated by district in charge of Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) of the environment department Ijaz Ahmad while talking to this corerspondent here.
Mr Ijaz said keeping in view the existing volume of the most sought-after species of medicinal plants, the capacity of the collectors was built in sustainable collection, storage and processing.
He said the extensive training was provided to more than 150 people by his department, while with the help of the acquired technical know-how, the collectors had embarked upon their collection practice and earned a handsome amount of money in their respective pastures.
The district in charge of NTFP said the local residents had also been linked to traders of the national market for the first time and the local collectors didn’t face any danger of decay of their collected plants without being sold.
He said two of the species had been declared to be of superb qualities namely mooruk (Glycyrohiza glabra) and ishpaar (emod) whose annual produce have been estimated to be more than eight tons each.
Mr Ijaz said some species were such that they could be brought to the market in raw form where they would be purchased by traders or pharmaceutical companies.
He said some species needed proper process before they were sold as they fetched more dividends in processed form than the raw one and such facilities were required to be installed in the city by the locals.
“Extensive research is required to be carried out by botanists as joint venture to look for more species in the vast pastures of the district, which can be used in the medicines,” he said, adding that there so many species which were hitherto known as only forage for animals.
Mr AShmad He said collection of medicinal plants could provide employment opportunities to thousands of unemployed youth in the district and it was due to this reason that his department has pinned great importance to their capacity building which will continue in the next season.
One of the collectors of mooruk and ishpar from Mastuj valley, Liaquat Khan said he’d earned Rs0.3 million by selling the plants in raw form to traders. He said he would employ more members of his family, including women, in the collection process in the next season.–Zahiruddin