Exports of Ashwagandha rose 8 times in 6 years: Ministry of Ayush

News Excerpt: 

Recently the Government of India announced that exports of Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, have surged by eightfold over the past six years, expanding into international markets such as the United States, Czech Republic, and Canada.

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The surge in Ashwagandha exports reflects a growing global interest in traditional herbal remedies. Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng or Withania somnifera or Winter Cherry, has gained popularity due to its purported health benefits, particularly in stress management. 

  • India is the top producer and exporter of Ashwagandha with states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh emerging as leading producers. Collaborations with institutions like the London School of Traditional Medicine and Hygiene for studying Ashwagandha's potential in addressing COVID-19 highlight efforts to explore its medicinal properties further. 
  • This aligns with the broader trend of integrating traditional medicine with modern research methodologies. The Ayurvedic industry in India has been growing at 17 percent CAGR. The size of the industry was $3 billion in 2014 and Today it has grown to $24 billion. 
  • Initiatives to establish quality standards and regulations, such as the development of BIS standards, reflect the government's commitment to ensuring transparency and consumer safety in the Ayurvedic industry. Despite challenges, the Ayurvedic sector in India continues to witness significant growth, contributing substantially to the country's economy and global trade.


  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), commonly known as Indian ginseng, holds significant historical importance, being utilized in traditional Indian systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Unani. 
    • This erect undershrub, reaching about 1.50 meters in height, thrives in dry and sub-tropical regions. Renowned for its hardiness and ability to withstand drought, Ashwagandha, with its rich bioactive compounds, maintains a prominent status in various regions of India, notably in Madhya Pradesh. 
    • Major Ashwagandha producing states include Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, with the latter alone cultivating it over an expanse of 5000 hectares. 
    • The estimated annual production of Ashwagandha roots in India exceeds 1500 tonnes, while the demand surpasses 7000 tonnes annually, underscoring the necessity to boost cultivation and enhance production.
  • Medicinal Properties and Use: Medicinally, Ashwagandha is revered as a premier rejuvenating agent in Ayurveda. Its roots, seeds, and leaves find applications in a range of Ayurvedic and Unani formulations. 
    • Ashwagandha root is particularly esteemed for its therapeutic properties in addressing conditions such as rheumatic pain, joint inflammation, nervous disorders, and epilepsy. 
    • The dried roots serve as a tonic for various ailments including hiccup, cold, cough, and female disorders, while also acting as a sedative and aiding in senile debility and ulcer care. 
    • Additionally, the leaves are utilized for treating carbuncles, inflammation, and swellings, with leaf juice being beneficial for conjunctivitis. 
    • Furthermore, Ashwagandha and its extracts are integral components in the preparation of herbal teas, powders, tablets, and syrups.
  • Soil: Ashwagandha thrives in sandy loam or light red soil with pH ranging from 7.5 to 8.0, provided there is adequate drainage.
  • Cultivation: It is predominantly cultivated as a late rainy season (kharif) crop, favoring semi-tropical regions with rainfall between 500 to 750 mm. 
    • Throughout its growth cycle, Ashwagandha requires minimal fertilization, responding favorably to organic inputs such as farmyard manure or vermicompost. 
    • Light, intermittent irrigation is sufficient, with precautions taken to avoid waterlogging. While pests and diseases pose minor threats, timely interventions such as pesticide application and seed treatments effectively manage such issues.
  • Harvesting: Harvesting typically occurs 150 to 180 days after sowing, with the maturity of the crop signaled by the drying of leaves and the appearance of yellow-red berries. 
    • Post-harvest processing involves separating the roots from the aerial parts, followed by drying and grading based on size and quality. 
    • Superior quality roots command a premium price, making proper storage imperative to prevent moisture and fungal damage.


Medicinal plants stand as remarkable gifts from nature, serving as crucial components in medicine, cosmetics, hygiene, and dietary supplements, thereby enhancing human well-being. However, the majority of the world's medicinal herbs are sourced from wild collection, accounting for approximately 90% of the supply. This reliance on wild harvesting has led to alarming consequences such as dwindling natural resources, decreased biodiversity, and erratic supply patterns. The cultivation of medicinal plants offers a viable solution to mitigate the adverse effects of wild harvesting.

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