An encounter with a babu

Briefly: An encounter with a babu in National Medicinal Plants Board was enough to discourage me

Lately National Medicinal Plants Board has been buying space in newspapers to inform readers about different schemes to support cultivation of medicinal plants. In fact, the Board through its State agencies gives ample subsidies to farmers who are willing to take up cultivation of medicinal plants.

Being a Sunday farmer I thought why not? And so called up the board number of NMPB and tried speaking to the CEO. The man who picked up informed me, “Sahaab Bahar gaye hain.” Before I could ask whether I could speak to someone lower in the hierarchy, he had put the phone down.

I was not willing to give up, so I called up the number again and having got the names of other officials (thanks to its website) I just asked for one Dr Rawat.

I introduced myself and asked him for guidance.

“Sir one acre plot is too less for commercial cultivation,” he said.

That was enough to discourage me but I persisted.

He came up with an idea, which he might have thought was very brilliant. “Your plot is closer to Mumbai where the rates are very high. Why don’t you make it a nature park grow medicinal plants and herbs and invite people? You can tie up with a local hotel or resort so that you will get regular visitors,” he suggested.

I asked, “If I planted stevia.”

“That will not be commercially viable,” he stated. “You will not get more than Rs 20 per kilo.”

Dr Rawat was not aware that leaves of stevia are available for Rs 300 onwards per kg.

I said thanks and called up my friend, Jitendar and asked him to get me some info on stevia through his contacts in Benaras Hindu University.

Ten minutes later Jitendar was on the phone. “Areey Yar. A friend who grows stevia in Benaras sells its leaves for Rs 500 a kg. though he gave me the same for my pharmacy work for Rs 250,” he said adding. “For one kilo seeds he is asking for Rs 8000 though we can negotiate.”

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