The vastness of the plant genetic resource available to us may be gauged from the fact that nearly 328 families of flowering plants of the 425 families recognized to be existing in the world, are known to exist in our sub-continent and comprise of nearly 21,000 species. NWFPs are derived from over 3,000 species. Their contribution to the economy however, is largely un-quantified as more than 60 percent of such production is locally consumed by the population. The harvesting and utilization of NWFPs were not handled by the organized commercial sector but, mainly by individual enterprises for meeting day to day needs. It failed to attract the attention it deserves relegating the scientific management of such valuable resources to a insignificant place.
The NWFP Division has been dealing with economic research on medicinal, aromatic and poisonous plants. Various aspects such as their distribution, availability, methods of collection and exploitation, extent of trade, scope of demand, adulteration, grading, marketing, etc., with a view to suggesting improved methods of their utilization and supplying raw materials of standard quality to the trade and industry of the country and to the overseas markets. Based on the requirements and to fulfill the quality policy and priorities of the Institute, the Division envisages:
a. Generation and dissemination of knowledge for NWFP conservation, development and sustainable management of the resources;
b. Customer satisfaction through timely delivery of quality products and services and c. Human resources development through quality education and training.
NWFP Division plans to continue striving on the strategies (both present and future) on the following:
1. Inventorization of NWFP resources and documentation. This also helps in examining which resources are useful commercially and the consequences of over exploitation on the resource base itself.
2. Survey of Potential production, demand and supply status, market price, trend and prospect and plan research accordingly.
3. Study the effects of present NWFP extraction systems on regeneration of species & associates, biotic pressure, crop condition & biodiversity, and suggest solutions.
4. Standardization of cultivation practices of all-important NWFPs including medicinal & aromatic plants. There is growing demand for natural products and therefore, developing organic cultivation protocols for various NWFPs.
5. Creation of in-situ and ex-situ Germplasm Banks of NWFP species including rare, threatened and endangered species of different states or region for posterity.
6. Optimizing method of NWFP production both qualitative & quantitative through;
(i) New technology inputs for treatment of unproductive blank patches and degraded forest areas, developing techniques for productivity in multi-layered & multiple use of forests, etc.
(ii) Silvicultural, cultural operations, and provenance trials.
(iii) Sustainable harvesting methods and value addition experiments.
7. Extension of technologies and education for promoting NWFPs to industries and economic upliftment of forest dependants, especially the tribals.
8. Equip the NWFP Division with a modern laboratory to experiment, test, analyze and multiply quality planting stock requirements of quality NWFPs.
9. Creation of Herbal Gyan Kendras for extension and dissemination of knowledge in respect of NWFPs.
10. Development of Technologies for utilization and value addition of NWFPs.
11. To put efforts to make NWFP, a center of excellence in the field of Non-Timber Forest Products in the country through institutional linkages.