The Secretary, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, Dr. Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, stated that there is a tremendous growth opportunities for businesses in the sector as during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic most people in the country have turned to Ayurveda and followed Ayush guidelines in some way to keep themselves safe. He made this statement at the ASSOCHAM Foundation Week in a session- Future lies in the past – Leveraging India’s embedded knowledge to pivot the country’s growth story” organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
Citing an impact study done by the Ministry of Ayush on the impact of Ayush Guidelines during pandemic he said, “more than 86 percent people surveyed have said that they have used Ayush guidelines and medicines during the pandemic for self-care. Around 1.47 crore people were surveyed online by the ministry out of which 15,000 were infected by the virus. Also, the 2/3rd people amongst the infected ones who followed guidelines had an only mild infection and did not suffer severity,” he said.
Dr. Kotecha explained that during the pandemic months a few medicines showed 500-600 percent growth, overall the industry size grew by 44 percent during those times. “We need to capitalize on the huge opportunity presented by the crisis and we all,– the industry , the plant growers, the state governments—should work together to grow the industry. Working together is the key,” he said.
He informed that the ministry is in talks with industry bodies like ASSOCHAM to come together and set up an ecosystem of supply-chain management in the country. “The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) also has singed 8 Memorandum of Understating (MoUs) with various industry members in this regard. We should follow the Kerala model wherein the medicine industry buys produce directly from the plant growers or farmers thereby benefiting each other,” he added.
“There are various issues such as logistic issues that is been faced by the sector, we are trying to resolve those using ITEs ,” he said.
Dr. Kotecha also suggested that there is another segment that can be propagated from the commercialization point of view and that is ‘Ayurved Ahar’. “Along with the value-added plants or APIs in India we can standardize various recipes indigenous to us,” he exclaimed.
The secretary also informed that there are 104 studies are going on at 35 locations in India out of that 3 are clinical studies to gauge the effectiveness of various Ayush medicines on the people. “We are going to publish the observation soon for the people and medical fraternity to know and understand the benefits,” he added. He appealed to the industry to come forward and help in developing and propagating the Ayush Drugs and medicines in the future. “Maybe we can develop some other vaccination to enhance the effect of Coronavirus Vaccine,” he said.
In an answer to the suggestion about declaring forest produce as organic he assured that he will certainly into the ‘organic certification’ matter . “It will be wonderful for the tribal community and the country in the future if the forest produce can be exported under the organic label. Also responding to the suggestions, he invited ASSOCHAM to submit representations with regard to the industry challenges especially on taxation concerns on importing of botanicals and lactose etc, and inclusion of more Indian plants in Homoeopathic pharmacopoeia.
Also present at the event was Dr. Naval Jit Kapoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India stated that Covid -19 has taught us the importance of traditional knowledge to increase immunity. He informed that out of 177 tribal districts in the country the spread of the pandemic was only 3 percent and that too was carried by the migrants who came back from cities like New Delhi and Mumbai.
He emphasized embedding traditional indigenous knowledge to the benefit of modern society. “We should validate tribal healers, and follow the traditional method of milking and farming to reap the maximum benefit,” he said. However, he warned against the over-exploitation of the forest and to keep them away from pollutants. “ We all should participate in propagating the knowledge further and help in mainstreaming the tribal entrepreneurs he added.
Mr Debarshi Duttagupta, Managing Director East India Pharmaceuticals, Chairman Healthcare Eastern region ASSOCHAM and Chairman Indian Institute of Packaging said, Ayurvedic Manufacturing capabilities of India can further be enhanced with systemic research and technological improvements. Research and Development need to be the focus of India, to strengthen our global reach.
Dr Sudipta Narayan Roy, MD Powell Group, “Indian Homoeopathic system and Indian Ayurveda are alternative medicines systems that have greater acceptability and for this ease of doing business for existing business and encouragement of startups in the sector are essential. The raw material procurement, standardization is core for the growth of the sector.”
Other key guest included Mr Arun Arora of Kudos Healthcare who raised matter of Organic Certification and Manpower Shortage of the sector, joined by Mr Ashish Kumar Managing Director, Dr Willmar Schwabe , he shared his thougths on growing opportunties of invsetmnets in Herbal APIs.