Published:  01:07 AM, 24 June 2020

Concerns over nutrition security and sufferings of medicinal plants farmers during corona pandemic

Concerns over nutrition security and sufferings of medicinal plants farmers during corona pandemic

Although the current situation of the agricultural sector in Bangladesh seems to be satisfactory during corona epidemic, the long-term impact on the agricultural sector will be visible if all levels of data are analyzed. Paddy production has quadrupled in the last 49 years since independence.

Bangladesh is the third largest producer of vegetables in the world. At present, Bangladesh is self-sufficient in food but lags far behind in terms of nutrition security. And various types of medicinal plants continue to make a vital contribution to nutrition security.

The importance of medicinal plants in providing safe food security and nutrition has no matching. The demand for medicinal plants is increasing day by day due to the global demand for organic food and herbal medicines which have no side effects.

About 33 percent of the allopathic medicines made in the developed countries of the world are prepared from herbal chemicals. 60 percent of the allopathic medicines made from microorganisms are prepared from medicinal plants. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, 8,827.751 metric tons of herbal products were exported against the import of 812.146 tons. 42 types of medicinal or herbal products are exported from Bangladesh.

So, there isn't only an opportunity to export herbal products but also contribute to meeting the nutritional needs of the country. But due to the contraction of transport and marketing during corona pandemic, the cultivation of medicinal plants has come to a standstill.

Besides, there has been a huge adverse effect on nutrition security. At this time of corona epidemic, when we say we need to build a strong immune system before developing any antidote to treat this virus, the marketing of medicinal plants falls into uncertainty, which will challenge the possibility of meeting the nutritional needs.

If we take a look, we can see that before the epidemic, aloe vera juice was sold at street corners, which was a great source of nutrition for the working-class people. The day is going through a delicate situation.

At the same time, the herbal tree growers are now almost mad at the loss. But now, the scope of work has shrunk and at the same time, there is a tendency to stay at home as well. All in all, everyone involved in this work is going through a delicate situation. At the same time, the herbal tree growers are now almost mad at the loss.

If the implementation the directive of the Hon'ble Prime Minister "Not even an inch of land remains uncultivated" and planting medicinal plants at every corner of building roof can be a timely task. These herbal corners may contain plants like bask, basil, ginger, cloves, black cumin etc.

which will be of unimaginable help in increasing the immunity system of human being during or after corona pandemic. Tulsi has been shown to be a boon for respiratory problems, reduce human stress and eliminate fever and colds. Thus, medicinal plants can be used as a tool to boost immunity.

The cultivation of these medicinal plants at Lakshmipur Kholabaria of Natore district of Bangladesh is now going on commercially. According to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), 22 species of medicinal plants including aloe vera, basil, bask, ashwagandha, shimul root are cultivated in 1,050 bighas of land in the country throughout the year.

A wholesale warehouse has been set up at this village from where herbal products are supplied all over Bangladesh including Dhaka. Farmers are facing huge losses as the leaves and roots of these medicinal plants including aloe vera are decaying and market management is collapsing. Besides, the farmers, traders and workers who earn livelihood through this have become jobless.

The medicinal plants growers, vanguard of nutrition security of the country, are not only getting any support from the government but also losing interest in cultivating medicinal plants. As a result, there is growing a fear of long-term losses in meeting safe food security and nutrition needs.

---Krishibid Rasel Ahmed

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