Herbs swing Bundelkhand tribals’ fortune
Over the past eight years, Bhure Kol has added two rooms to his house,
replaced its thatched roof with corrugated iron sheets and bought a second—hand
moped. The illiterate tribal from Masaura, Lalitpur in Bundelkhand owes his
prosperity to the rich herbal haul made by the family of six.
The demand for ware on sale — Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) known
popularly as Indian ginseng, White Museli (chiorophytum barivillianum) touted as
desi Viagra, and other assorted prized herbs has gone up manifold. Therefore the
market is growing, price is good and most importantly buyers turn up at his
doorsteps saving him a business trip out of the quiet little hamlet to Jhansi.
A hotbed of intense political activity, Bundelkhand is fast turning into a
favourite hunting ground for big players in the alternative medicine. The
region, in league with Orissa and Chattisgarh with its abundant medicinal plant
produce, is equally vulnerable due to endemic poverty and therefore a gold mine
waiting to be exploited by mushrooming herbal industry in Noida, Delhi, Gurgaon,
and Faridabad. All they have to do is to send smart agents to pay the tribals
advance money during lean seasons and then buy at their own rates. Luckily for
them government offers little competition.