Gujarat’s indigenous tribes to get brand registration for tribal medicines

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    AHMEDABAD: Indigenous tribes from Gujarat would become India’s first tribal community to get their age-old medicinal knowledge branded and registered under trademark and geographic indication (GI). The state government has initiated a tribal branding project to create and promote a tribal-made product pool to protect tribal community knowledge. ET has learnt that the forest department will create a pool of brands for local herbs found in Dangs along with the local tribes to improve the latter’s income levels and to efficiently utilise the vast natural resources of the region. This will include value-addition by using modern processing, packaging and marketing system. The proposed brand for the herbs is in addition to the existing brand ‘Dhanvantri’ that belongs to Gujarat Forest Development Corporation.

    “Currently, middle-men collect herbs from the locals who in turn end up getting exploited. We will create a dedicated marketplace for processed hubs that could be bought by ayurvedic pharma companies,” S K Chaturvedi, chief conservator of forest of Valsad and Dang districts. The Dangs has more than 350 species of medicinal plants scattered over 311 villages and has 60 Bhagats (tribal healers).

    The forest department will train the tribals in scientific method of herbs and its preservation, Chaturvedi says. “Modern processing units will be set up to add value to the raw herbs and special training will also be imparted to tribals to improve the productivity of the plants,” he said. Dangs is home to herbs like harde, baheda , mahuda, charoli, shatavri, citrak, white musli, jivanti, kaucha and galo amongst others. “Unlike Ayurveda, the medical knowledge of the tribals has never been documented by the Bhagats. The knowledge has been passed on to subsequent generation verbally,” says Dr Deepak Acharya, director of Abhumka Herbal, that is deciphering tribal knowledge into finished products and sharing profit with the tribal community.

    Bio-piracy in the region began in 1990s but reached its peak in 2000. Later, local administration and tribal healers sprung into action to find means to plug it. Registration will empower owners of the said intellectual property to restrict others from using similar intellectual property, says advocate Aayush Modi working with Nanavati Associates that is working on this state government initiative. The firm along with the State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) has begun applying for trademark registrations for various products manufactured or sold by the tribals. “It will enable sales and promote specific brands emerging from the region,” adds IPR specialist Mr Pranit Nanavati. Abhumka has so far introduced over 12 medicinal products from the region — herbal cattlefeed DudhNahar, vitality capsules Teranta and StonOff, for removal of kidney stones — for instance.

    Source: The Economic Times by Vishal Dutta & Himanshu Darji, ET Bureau