Gift For New Year
Nepal’s hills and Himalayas are the natural garden of medical plants. They have been great sources of healthy and happy life of people since ancient time. The healing power of herbal plants has been mentioned in the famous Hindu epic, Ramayana, in which brave Hanuman (monkey god) goes to the Himalaya to retrieve Sanjeevani buti (life-saving herb) to save prince Laxman who was mortally wounded by Ravana’s son, Indrajit. Failing to identify the magical plant, he lifts the entire mountain and brings it to the battlefield, enabling Laxman to regain life. It is said that Sanjeevani plant glows in the darkness. This mythical reference testifies that the herbal plants have medical properties and the people discovered and used them to fight diseases and wounds, thereby ensuring the longevity of their life. Various studies have shown that more than ten thousand species of herbs are found in the alpine region of Nepal. The concerned agencies have listed around 1,624 species of medical and aromatic herbs used for both preventive and curative measures. They contain anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and other medical properties. The herbal plants are big sources of all three modes of treatment - Ayurvedic, allopathic and homeopathic. Despite being rich in herbal plants, Nepal has been unable to tap them medically and commercially. It exports over 90 per cent of herbs to India as raw materials and imports medicine and aromatic items produced from Nepali herbs from there. The country has so far utilised only one or two per cent of herbs in the domestic laboratories.
In order to end this paradox, Nepali scientists have produced perfume and attar from native aromatic herbs under the brand of ‘Mystique Mountain’. The perfume has been named as Koshi and attar as Jumla. These are purely natural products, with no chemical side effects. According to a news item published in this daily on the New Year eve, three Nepali scientists at the Department of Plant Resources (DPR) under the Ministry of Forest and Environment developed the chemical formula of the perfume and attar, and handed it over to the Herbs Production and Processing Company Limited (HPPCL). Lead scientist Devi Prasad Bhandari and his colleagues Laxman Bhandari and Rajeshwore Ranjitkar deserve praise for this scientific breakthrough. They state that perfume and attar differ in terms of the durability of their fragrance. Impact of perfumes lasts for a short time but that of attar continues for longer time owing to use of glycerine in its composition. This invention has opened a huge medical and commercial prospect of Nepali aromatic herbs. In the days ahead, initiatives need to be taken to manufacture Nepali brands of perfume and attar on a large scale, targeting domestic and foreign consumers. The government should provide support to HPPCL in the export of items it produces. Moreover, it is imperative for the government to protect the patent right of these products to make sure that their chemical formulas are not copied by others. Making the country self-reliant in the basic items should be the topmost priority of the new government. The invention of Nepali perfumes is like a New Year gift for the countrymen. To encourage individuals involved in such novel initiatives, the state needs to invest more money in research and development of local herbs to produce medicines, thereby reducing imports of drugs from India. This will help the country minimise the rising trade deficit with the southern neighbour.