Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, popularly known as CIMAP, is a frontier plant research laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Established originally as Central Indian Medicinal Plants Organisation (CIMPO) in 1959, CIMAP is steering multidisciplinary high quality research in biological and chemical sciences and extending technologies and services to the farmers and entrepreneurs of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) with its research headquarter at Lucknow and Research Centres at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pantnagar and Purara. CIMAP Research Centres are aptly situated in different agro-climatic zones of the country to facilitate multi-location field trials and research. A little more than 50 years since its inception, today, CIMAP has extended its wings overseas with scientific collaboration agreements with Malaysia. CSIR-CIMAP has signed two agreements to promote bilateral cooperation between India and Malaysia in research, development and commercialization of MAP related technologies. CIMAP’s contribution to the Indian economy through its MAPs research is well known. Mint varieties released and agro-packages developed and popularised by CIMAP has made India the global leader in mints and related industrial products. CIMAP has released several varieties of the MAPs, their complete agro-technology and post harvest packages which have revolutionised MAPs cultivation and business scenario of the country.Recognizing the urgent need for stimulating research on medicinal plants in the country and for coordinating and consolidating some work already done by organizations like the Indian council of Agricultural Research, Indian Council of Medical Research, Tropical School of Medicine of Culcutta and various States Governments and Individual workers, the Council Scientific and Industrial Research approved in 1957 the establishment of the Central Indian Medicinal Plants Organization (CIMPO) with the following objectives. ‘To co-ordinate and channelise along fruitful directions the present activities in the field of medicinal plants carried out by the various agencies, State Governments etc., to develop the already existing medicinal plants resources of India, to bring under cultivation some of the important medicinal plants in great demand and also to introduce the cultivation into the country of exotic medicinal plants of high yielding active principal content’ It was further decide that as the work on all aspects of cultivation of aromatics plants was identical with all the cultivation of medicinal plants, the aromatic plants should also be covered within the scope of CIMPO. The Essential Oils Research Committee functioning under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research was then dissolve and its activities taken over by CIMPO. The Organization started functioning with effect from 26 March 1959 with the appointment of late Shri P.M. Nabar its first Officer Incharge.
Role of the Lab and Positioning : CIMAP is a unique lab of its kind in the entire globe, way ahead of its time even at the time of its establishment. As a ripple effect of CIMAP’s success and contribution, other research establishments have now started seriously considering MAPs in their portfolio. While conserving the plant genetic resources systematically and undertaking world class research work in plant science, CIMAP is equipping the nation with high-tech agriculture linked to industrial processing of MAPs. CIMAP is equipped with state-of-the-art multidisciplinary laboratories, ultra-modern instrumentation facilities and scientific expertise in agriculture, genetics and plant breeding, molecular taxonomy, molecular and structural biology, plant biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology, bio energy and chemical sciences, apart from development of herbal products. CIMAP, Lucknow houses the National Gene Bank of medicinal and aromatic plants, in addition to seed gene bank, tissue and DNA bank. Further, Field Gene Bank of different varieties of MAPs is maintained at CIMAP Lucknow and its four research centres situated across the country.
From CIMAP Lab to Market CIMAP has been documenting and creating scientific knowledgebase relevant to MAPs for its efficient utilisation, facilitating the lab to market journey of medicinal and aromatic crops (MACs) through several important publications. Farm bulletins on various economically important MACs (e.g. Mint, Lemongrass, Palmarosa, Geranium, Withania, Artemisia, etc.) in Hindi, English and regional languages, Training manuals - ‘Aus Saathi’ and ‘MAPs Companion’, Crop calendars, a composite research journal ‘Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Sciences (JMAPS)’ covering research papers, and trade related information on MACs are published by CIMAP. Major impact making patents which resulted in major marketable technologies from CIMAP are Artemisia cultivation method (US 6,39,376), CIM-Arogya herb processing for artemisinin (IN 176679), development of arteether (IN 173947), artemisinin extraction process (US 5,955,08), CIM-Arogya - genetically tagged high yielding variety of Artemisia annua and its cultivation technology (US 6,393,763), cultivar Himalaya and Kosi of menthol mint (PP 10935, PP 12426) and method of producing mint plant Kushal (US 6,420, 174).
Sharing of Expertise and Knowledge,Technical Consultancy & setting up of National Facilities CIMAP Gene Bank established in 1993 as a follow up action taken in the summit of G-15 countries held at Caracas is one of the three National Gene Banks of the country that focuses on the conservation of MAPs of India in the form of seed, field, tissue and DNA banks. CIMAP has been designated by PPV&FRA (Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rights Authority) as Nodal laboratory for developing National Test Guidelines for plant varieties protection and DUS (distinctiveness, uniformity and stability) testing of medicinal and aromatic plants and seed species. CIMAP Bio-village Mission is currently expanding the industrial cultivation of appropriate medicinal and aromatic plants nationwide from North to South India, and in Uttar Pradesh, from Lucknow in all directions. National Biodiversity Authority of India has recognized CIMAP as a Designated National Repository (DNR) under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, to keep in safe custody, specimens of different categories of biological material.
National and International Linkages CIMAP has been recognized as Focal Point for South East Asia by International Centre for Science and High Technology- United Nations Industrial Development Organization (ICS-UNIDO). CIMAP has scientific collaboration with Bulgarian Academy of Science for Rose oil technology. At National level CIMAP has established alliances with Indian Institute of Agriculture Research (IIAR), Gandhinagar (Gujarat) and North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST), Jorhat (Assam) for multiplier effect for its endeavour in western and North East Region, respectively. Internationally too, CSIR-CIMAP, Special Innovation Unit (UNIK) Corp, Malaysia, Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Monash University, Sunaway Campus, Malaysia have entered into scientific agreement. The agreements envisage establishment of a Joint Innovation Accelerator Centre with expertise of CSIR-CIMAP in Malaysia to carry out research on areas of mutual interest such as green technologies, medicinal and aromatic plants and other innovative technologies. Both CSIR-CIMAP and UNIK will also explore and develop the use of herbs, plants, flowers and fruits for medicinal and aromatic purposes in Malaysia by way of improving extraction techniques, modern processes and herbal products.
Academics alliances-mentoring your minds To share a common desire to explore, extend and strengthen the functional relationship between Universities and National Scientific Institutes/ Laboratories of CSIR, CIMAP has signed MoUs with several universities including JNU, GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology (GBPUAT), Pantnagar, Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture & Technology (CSAUAT), Kanpur, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Universities of Allahabad and Lucknow among others. Towards the mission of bringing scientific excellence through University-Research Institution joint efforts, CIMAP has been recognized by Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, as its centre for research and academic activities in the field of Life Sciences. Other programs conducted regularly towards human resource development include entrepreneurship development programs, CIMAP Winter School (CWS), CIMAP Summer Training (CST), CIMAP Winter Training (CWT) on techniques and tools of biotechnology and bioinformatics, CIMAP Summer School (CSS) on molecular technologies in bio-prospection and biodiversity analysis, CIMAP training on Advanced Instrumentation and Analytical Techniques (AIAT), etc. CIMAP, Lucknow and its Research Centres regularly organizes training programs, entrepreneurship building programs, need based industrial trainings and awareness programs all over the country.