Raise market potential oriented Artemisia annua, prevent suicides

Artemisia annua is a Chinese medicinal plant used to treat breast cancer and malaria.

CHENNAI: At a time when the farmers are protesting demanding waiver of loans, and some allegedly committing suicide, losing hope on agriculture as sustainable livelihood, a veteran farmer from Hosur, who recently recovered from stroke and a road accident, is trying hard to attract the attention of the ryots to raise cash yielding crop that requires meager water for irrigation compared to paddy which requires more water.

His simple prescription is to raise Artemisia annua, a Chinese medicinal plant used to treat breast cancer and malaria. The 61-year-old agriculturalist and CEO of Bharati Society, Tamil Nadu, K. Ramnath, who has successfully produced the Artemisia Annua plant and marketed its leaves to pharmaceutical companies says he is on a mission to create awareness among farmers to improve their livelihood opportunities by raising this wonder plant. “I can train farmers, supplying seedlings and fertiliser...instead of raising the same crop every time without taking into account the environment conditions, it will be economically remunerative for the ryots if they raise this short duration medicinal plant, which has high export value too,” he said.

“I can purchase the leaves from the cultivators and market them. On an average, a farmer can earn Rs 15,000 in five months per acre,” Mr Ramnath said and added that he had identified the belt where this plant could be raised in Tamil Nadu. The farmers in Kalakkadu, Kadayanallur, Theni, Salem, Dharmapuri and Hosur (where highest yield of 3.5 ton as against 2.5 ton a acre in other places was obtained due to the salubrious climate) could reap rich benefits. Presently, he is on the lookout for vast chunk of land to cultivate this plant.

“I am having a registered society, Bharati Society, since 1999, and obtained 4 technology transfer licences from government of India. One of the major licence is related to WHO guideline... ours is the superior variety, lab tested by Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow. Its chemical content is 0.89 and certified by the government of India,” he adds.

Mr. Ramnath says that he wants farmers to cultivate in 100 acres land and enhance their income. “An interesting characteristic of this plant is that it is not susceptible to disease, as it is lab to land product. Besides, there are so many advantages. The particular variety is Jeevanraksha and was launched by former President Abdul Kalam in 2006,” he adds.

What is Artemisia annua?

It is known as sweet wormwood, sweet annie, sweet sagewort, annual mugwort or annual wormwood. ICMR had even researched about its efficacy. It is a temperate plant that requires cold winter and moderate summer and can be cultivated as a rabi crop. It can withstand drought conditions.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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