Consultation Workshop on Analysis of Value-Chain of Medicinal Plant Trade in Tamil Nadu Held in February 2019

01 Feb, 2019

The Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations, 2014 provides guidelines for implementing the third objective of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, i.e. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and associated knowledge. This is commonly known as Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). As per the guidelines, there are two options of benefit-sharing – 1) on the purchase price of biological resources, and 2) on the annual gross ex-factory sale of the product. In order to facilitate the implementation of ABS provisions at the ground level, it is imperative that regulators are aware of bioresources, products and actors involved in the trade. Owing to lack of knowledge on this matter, implementation has been slow.

Participants at the workshop

Dr. Narasimhan and Mr. Muthuvelayutham

The Access and Benefit Sharing Partnership Project commissioned a study to analyse the value-chain of medicinal plants trade in the state to support the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board with information needed to implement ABS under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. Information on the value-chain of selected bioresources, its market linkages, source locations, information on processes and various actors involved in the trade of biological resources were analysed. The study was conducted by Covenant Centre for Development (CCD), Madurai, which has over three decades of experience in working with local communities on aspects of conservation, collection, cultivation and trade of medicinal plants. CCD was also instrumental in establishing Gram Mooligai Company Ltd., a producer company that promotes trade of medicinal plants and agriculture commodities to promote sustainable livelihoods and poverty alleviation.

A consultation workshop was organised by the Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board (TNBB) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on 1st February 2019 to discuss the draft report and obtain feedback from regulators and other experts. Senior officials from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Mr. R. K. Upadhyay IFS, PCCF & Chairman – TAFCORN, Dr. Durairasu IFS, PCCF & Chairman, Arasu Rubber Corporation, Mr. Sanjay Srivastava IFS, PCCF & Chief Project Director – Tamil Nadu Biodiversity and Greening Project, Mr. K. Chidambaram IFS (Retd. PCCF), Dr. V. Arivudai Nambi and Dr. D. Narasimhan, expert members of TNBB, and Mr. N. Muthuvelayutham and Mr. John Britto from CCD were present in the consultation workshop.

Mr. John Britto of Covenant Centre for Development, Madurai

Mr. Kunal Sharma, GIZ

Mr. A. Udhayan IFS, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board, welcomed the participants and highlighted the importance of identifying value-chains in the trade of medicinal plants in order to implement ABS provisions as mandated under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. Mr. R. K. Upadhyay complimented the ABS Partnership Project for undertaking the study and suggested that outcome of this study be used to explore practical ways to implement ABS. Mr. Chidambaram emphasised on the need to identify the benefit claimers in the trade of medicinal plants, and to ensure that the ABS amount reaches the benefit claimers. Mr. Sanjay Srivastava highlighted the need for ensuring sustainability in the trade.

Mr. Kunal Sharma, GIZ India, provided details on key aspects of trade investigated in the study – identifying the process of bioresource trade for ABS compliant value-chain, the main actors and their role in the trade, the value of the bioresources at each stage of the trade and its ABS potential. The study was conducted on 20 highly traded species, which are not included under Section 40 of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

Mr. John Britto, Covenant Centre for Development, Madurai, presented the results of the study. The study identified the socio-economic status of the gatherers involved in the trade of these 20 selected species, the commonly collected parts of the medicinal plants, methods of gathering the plants, reasons for decline in the quantities collected and other external factors contributing to reduced gathering of medicinal plants. The study also identified the processing at various stages in the trade from the gatherers and medicinal plant cultivators to agencies, agents and traders, to processors and exporters. The traditional knowledge of gatherers for sustainable harvesting and traders for their insights into the demands of the trade were also highlighted. Other actors identified in the study were traditional healers and research stations.

Major points of recommendations included the identification of which stage of the trade would ABS be applicable, ways to ensure that ABS amount will be used for the purposes stipulated by the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, integrating other existing village-level committees with BMCs to ensure its effective functioning, methods for traceability of bio-resources in the value-chain, and challenges when the bioresources move across state lines. Recommendations will be incorporated to finalise the study report.

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