India has very strong traditional health care practices that are represented by the classical systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, and Swa-rigpa on one hand, and by a very diverse area-specific and community-specific folk healthcare practices on the other. The major commonality of the Indian classical and the folk health care traditions is their dependence upon the raw material derived from a large diversity of plant species, which is estimated to be about 6,500.
The first serious attempt at national level to assess the demand and supply of medicinal plants in the country was made by the National Medicinal Plant Board during 2001-02, when it commissioned a study through CERPA to understand annual trade levels of selected 162 medicinal plant species. The NMPB, thereafter in 2006-07 commissioned a national study to assess demand and supply of medicinal plants in India. That study, carried out by FRLHT, for the first time brought various intricacies in the herbal sector to the fore and added to the understanding of the subject related to the diversity of raw drug entities in trade, their botanical correlation, volume of annual trade and supply sources.
To assess the current Demand and Supply scenario of medicinal plants, NMPB has extensively surveyed the herbal market of India in collaboration with ICFRE, Dehradun. The estimate of consolidated commercial demand of herbal raw drugs for the year 2014-15 has been has been estimated at 5,12,000 MT. Estimated Exports of Herbal Raw Drugs, including Extracts has been estimated 1,34,500 MT in 2014-15. Estimated Consumption by Domestic Herbal Industry has been estimated 1,95,000 MT 2014-15. An Estimated 1,67,500 MT of Herbal Raw Drugs are also Used by Rural Households every year. About 1178 medicinal plant species recorded in the practices of trade. Out of which, 242 plant species are used in annual quantities of more than 100MT.