The National Biodiversity Centre (NBC), Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals Corporation Limited (MSPCL) and Bio Bhutan in collaboration with UNDP launched the nature-based products at Taj Tashi, Thimphu on April 5 as a part of the framework of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). The nine products includes anti-wrinkle cream, balm, liniment, massage oil, perfume, soaps, and hand sanitiser to support sustainable rural livelihoods.
ABS project is supporting collaborations among the government agencies and a private entity by engaging the local communities to support their livelihoods and promote conservation of biological diversity. Through this project, the communities will be benefited in promoting conservation of biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods and income generating opportunities.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister, Tshering Tobgay at the launch shared that the nature-based products represents the biodiversity hotspot that Bhutan is known for globally. He added that these are the pristine products from a pristine environment, representing what Bhutan is all about. He cautioned that Bhutan should use its genetic resources sustainably and we must protect the associated traditional knowledge in using these biological resources.
The Prime Minister added that Bhutan is known as the ‘Land of Medicinal Herbs’ due to its rich floral existence and the nature based products are means to showcase the world of the rich flora the country is blessed with. He explained that we must understand why Bhutan is a biological hotspot and that this initiative is a realisation of that aspect which is also a Royal vision.
Working with the Dzeodokha community, under Logchina gewog, Chhukha, the project is helping with the cultivation of Zingiber cassumunar (mountain ginger) which grows well on its relatively fertile soil conditions and low altitude. With the formalisation of an ABS agreement between NBC and the community members, followed by training on proper methods of care and cultivation of Zingiber, the project has developed natural products- balm and liniment.
The second pilot project led by MSPCL is working with Namther and Lingzhi communities in central and northern Bhutan to further strengthen the long-standing tradition of harvesting low and high altitude medicinal plants and develop natural products that can be commercialised in domestic and international markets.
The MSPCL has developed natural products such as soaps, hand sanitiser and anti-wrinkle cream using soap nut fruit, rhododendron and Himalayan gooseberry. The success of the project stands to benefit the local communities through higher income generation and additional monetary and non-monetary benefits while MSPCL is benefited with a sustainable supply of raw materials.
The third pilot project led by Bio Bhutan is working with the Dagala community to develop soap, massage oil and perfume from Rhododendron anthopogon in collaboration with Primavera, a European company. With the launched of these natural products, Bio Bhutan’s partnership will greatly enhance the income generating opportunities of the semi-nomadic community of yak herders who aside from their yaks have limited income generating opportunities.
Such project enables people to enable themselves with innovative ideas for income generation opportunities for the local communities through sustainable harvesting of wild plants, domestication and marketing of medicinal plants, and commercialisation of biological products.
Reported by Karma Loday with photo by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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