Indigenous Knowledge

Since time immemorial, people have gathered plant and animal resources for their needs. Examples include edible nuts, mushrooms, fruits, herbs, spices, gums, game, fodder, fibers used for construction of shelter and housing, clothing or utensils, and plant or animal products for medicinal, cosmetic or cultural uses. Even today, hundreds of millions of people, mostly in developing countries, derive a significant part of their subsistence needs and income from gathered plant and animal products. Gathering of high value products such as mushrooms, medicinal plants also continues in developed countries for cultural and economic reasons. Among these uses, medicinal plants play a central role as traditional medicines used in many cultures and tribes.

Patalkot tribals are experts in curing various health disorders by using locally available herbs and trees. But, so far, just like so many, biodiversity of Patalkot is also threatened. It is need of the hour to prepare a plan for conservation of medicinal plants as well as documentation of indigenous knowledge of tribes. Patalkot is a remote area in India where traditional herbal practices are performed on a large scale. The herbal practitioners are known as Bhumkas. These healers are expert in curing range of human health disorders with the help of medicinal plants growing in their respective regions. This knowledge of herbs and their uses has been passed from generation to generations. Young generations from these tribal groups are merely interested in knowing the secrets of medicinal plants. They are now influenced by the modern world and they think that they can earn more money by doing labour work at farms or working as a waiter in any hotel. Indeed, it is true that herbal healers are not paid enough for the creative and curative services they do for the society. The new generation doesn’t know the potential of knowledge of their elderly. Healers too are also not much interested in sharing their knowledge with the new generation. They want to transfer this knowledge to safe hands so that the knowledge is safeguarded and should be used for the welfare of the society

It is in fact a need of the hour to establish a Traditional Medicine Centre in Patalkot as to monitor and promote the collection of herbs from the Bhumkas through the research agencies/ companies or other institutions. Government and research organizations, NGOs, should come forward to take up the job of scientific documentation and validation of tribal’s traditional knowledge.

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