This project is a community-based initiative promoting traditional knowledge and customs alongside the commercial development of traditional herbal medicines to ensure sustainable utilisation of the medicinal and aromatic plants. Working in north-western India and also part of the Tibetan Plateau region, Pragya seek to involve the Tibetan monks, medicine practitioners and local women in the collecting, processing and benefits of the research and product development in thus improving their social and economic status.
The indigenous population comprises several different tribes and the economy of the region is based on agriculture and cattle rearing. Landholdings are small and much of the land is not arable. Soil quality is poor and water resources inadequate rendering crop productivity very low. Very little of the supply of plant material, which constantly falls short of the escalating demand, is from regenerative sources, and much of the harvesting is through destructive collection methods. Collectors’ earnings are limited, much of the returns from the sale of the herbs going to middlemen and traders. This also makes them uncaring of the regeneration and long-term survival aspect of the plants.