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Punjab is primarily an agricultural state. However, forest areas in the Shivaliks, Birs, Rakhs and Mand contribute to its rich biodiversity. Many of biological resources occurring in these areas especially medicinal plants  have good commercial potential in biodiversity based industries. A few medicinal plants also occur as weeds in agricultural fields. A joint study was conducted by Punjab Biodiversity Board and PSCST in 2010-11 to identify and assess volumes of major bioresources used in Punjab and their commercial potential. It was found that 255 registered herbal units were operating in Punjab, besides many unregistered herbal units, which were utilizing botanicals to prepare various product formulations (with or without the species  included in 'normally traded commodity' list  notified by  the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India). Out of 180 units functional units, limited data was provided by 121 units only (67.2%) from 15 districts (out of 20 districts) during. These 121 units were using 919.9 MT/annum of raw plant materials. The district wise usage of plant species by pharmacies/herbal units in Punjab ranges from 279 kg/annum in district Mansa to 527 MT/annum in district Amritsar, which is 57% of the total usage in the state.

The raw material was being procured from the market/traders and not collected directly. Such traders operate in Majith Mandi at Amritsar, collection center at Pathankot and in other states as well. Majith Mandi is known as the trade hub of some of these biological resources. Raw materials from Punjab and nearby states was collected and categorized for export and/or domestic consumption. An estimated 22,000 Metric Tonnes of botanical's (mainly 67 species) were being annually traded from Majith Mandi by 54 trader/dealers.

A total of 503 plant species were being used in the state, out of which, 334 species (66%) occured in Punjab and the rest were being brought/collected from other states. Data reveals that of the 334 plant species from Punjab, 127 were herb species, 110 were tree species, 63 were shrubs, and 34 were climbers. Out of total 503 species used, only 82 species were exempted from the provisions of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (as these were included in the list of 'normally traded commodities' notified by Govt. of India). Therefore, prior permission of National Biodiversity Authority was required for export of rest of the 421 plant species or their products being traded from the state. The most used medicinal plants are Aloe barbadensis , Emblica officinalis  and Terminalia chebula.  Data pointed that out of the 10 maximum used plant species, six species namely, Terminalia chebula, Commiphora wightii, Tinospora cordifolia, Tribulus lanuginosus,Terminalia arjuna and Terminalia belerica did not fall under 'normally traded commodity list' . Other important species excluded from the normally traded commodities list which are being collected from the state include Saraca asoca (11311 kg/annum), Boerhavia difffusa (10979 kg/annum), Sesamum orientale (10951 kg/annum), Asparagus racemosus (7314 kg/annum), Psoralea corylifolia (10951 kg/annum), Mucuna pruriens (5290 kg/annum), Eclipta prostata (5290 kg/annum), etc. Conservation of their habitat and regulated harvesting needed to be promoted to ensure their long term sustainability.

Two plant species, namely Techomella undulata and Withania coagulans, being used by herbal units had been identified as threatened species in the state. Techomella undulata had been identified as an 'endangered species' and Withania coagulans as 'vulnerable species' as per IUCN Red Data List.


District-wise quantity of botanicals used by herbal units (121) in Punjab




Most used botanicals in Punjab


Bioresource based Industry in Punjab: A Treatise