Medicinal plants: how much longer?
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CTA. 2000. Medicinal plants: how much longer?. Spore 90. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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The South African Institute for Natural Resources recently published some amazing figures about the market for medicinal plants which now reaches 27 million people, and is valued at ZAR 500 million (more than 77 million). In KwaZulu Natal alone,...
The South African Institute for Natural Resources recently published some amazing figures about the market for medicinal plants which now reaches 27 million people, and is valued at ZAR 500 million (more than 77 million). In KwaZulu Natal alone, 20,000 to 30,000 people depend on this market for the livelihood, representing 20% of the total active agricultural population and being mainly rural women in precarious circumstances. The annual harvest is 4,000 tones of plants, and its value is one-third that of maize production. The surge in demand is due largely, it is thought, to the belief that some plants can work in curing AIDS. Whatever may or may not be their real medicinal value, they cost more than a visit to the clinic, but demand stays high. Their consumers insist that they will continue to use the medicinal plants even if their prices keep increasing, which is likely in view of their scarcity. The price of wild ginger, for example, is a staggering ZAR 500 (77 ) a kilo. The methods used for gathering these plants are somewhat primitive and this, together with the wasteful losses due to poor storage conditions, gives cause for concern. The women gatherers are vulnerable to such shortages, and there is a need for change here. The situation is made even more crucial by the interest of large commercial companies in growing these high value-added plants. Institute of Natural Resources University of Natal Private Bag X01 Scottsville 3209, South Africa Fax: + 27 33 34 60 895 Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.inr.unp.ac.za/
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