NADI Conversation Series 2|| Ethno-botanical practices and conservation of endangered plants in the North East: A Discussion

Date:   Thu Mar 25, 2021 - Thu Mar 25, 2021

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The North-Eastern region of India is home to almost 50% of the flowering plants recorded from India and exhibits a phenomenal diversity. The region is also home to many wild variants of the current day cultivated plants like those belonging to the banana, orchid, citrus, and ginger families to name a few.

 

The region is also home to more than 250 tribes of different ethnic groups speaking over 200 dialects while following distinct cultural and ethnic practices.

Agriculture is the main occupation of this region and the different tribes follow various indigenous and traditional practices while tilling their lands. There exists a rich and unique coffer of unique and traditional means of agricultural practices making this area a paradise for ethnobotanists and anthropologists.

 

It is also documented that the people of the region made a deep and strong attachment to nature which is reflected in their daily and religious practices. The traditional conservation practices such as establishing and maintaining the sacred groves and plants are also a reflection of their reverence for nature.

Ethno-botany is the scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.

 

The natural and native vegetation composition and their combined relative ethnobotanical importance with species conservation index have shown that native plants provide many ecological and socio-economic services including provisioning of food, medicine, and energy.

 

Though a wide variety of plants with high resistance to important diseases have been reported, a large number of folk medicines and their subsequent applications have remained restricted to certain tribal pockets only. Gaining knowledge with practical implications involved in the multi-propagation of such important crop/medicinal plants would be of immense importance and added practical value.

 

Study of ethnobotanical practices in the region may show us the way for the promotion and best utilization of traditional herbal, medicinal plants and wild races of crops with high resistance to insects and other damaging diseases for the benefit of mankind.

 

The conservation of ethnobotanical resources and the wild variants of crop plants, floricultural species, and medicinal plants would be of importance while formulating future plant breeding programs with an emphasis on discovering a native germ pool and its conservation as also to create a germ plasm library through which related information from surrounding lands can be added and shared to promote socio-economic improvement and interactive stability in the region. 

Through this conversation we would aim to find answers to the following questions:

1.    Could you tell us about the native medicinal and floricultural plants with significant economic importance that is being grown in this region?

2.    How will the knowledge of ethnobotany and studies related to native practices of growing these plants help in the conservation and rejuvenation of the otherwise endangered and almost close to extinction plant variety in this region?

3.    How can the existing knowledge of traditional cropping practices be perpetrated amongst the common people while encouraging them to follow these methods?

4.    Can these methods be used to introduce micro-propagation of important and relatively unknown plants to a level where it can be turned into a cottage industry?

5.    Since the climatic conditions are ambient for using and promoting plastic house/ greenhouse cultivation of plants do you envisage this as a possibility to promote economic stability?



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