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Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

The first commercial product from seabuckthorn, (Hippophae sp) has been finally launched in India. The fruit of this plant has high nutritive and medicinal value (A bushful of medicine, Down To Earth, Vol 9, No 21, March 31, 2001) and New Delhi-based Compact International Limited has launched Leh Berry, a juice made from it.

Though this is a positive step towards sustainable use of the fruit, the lack of initiative by the department of Indian systems of medicine and homeopathy (ISMH) under the ministry of health and family welfare is disheartening. "We expected a pharmaceutical company to be the first to come forward considering the medicinal potential of the plant," says Virendra Singh, Himachal Pradesh Agricultural University (HPAU), Palampur, which has been promoting the wonder plant.

To ensure that the policy makers are aware of the potential of the plant and promote it, HPAU had organised an international workshop on seabuck thorn in February 2001. During the meeting, it had been decided that a task force would be set up to ensure that the plant is promoted and the department of ISMH was to be actively involved in the process, says Singh. "Nothing has been done in this regard," says SK Sharma, advisor, department of ISMH.

"The area still has the potential to cater for many industries and we hope that more firms enter the field," says Brahma Singh, director, Defence Research and Development Organisation. The Small Farmer's Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) of the Union ministry of agriculture feels that the indus-try is a good way of providing employment to the farmers in the area.

"We hope that a private company would now set up an oil extraction unit in the area," says Sudhir Kumar, managing director of SFAC.

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