Artemisia annua - a plant cure for malaria
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CTA. 2007. Artemisia annua - a plant cure for malaria. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57312
Advice and support on cultivation, harvesting and post-harvest handling for farmers who are growing Artemisia annua.
Artemisia annua ? a plant cure for malaria Cue: The development of pharmaceutical drugs from the plant Artemisia annua has been one of the most exciting recent developments in plant-based medicine. Originating from China, artemisia is now being grown in East Africa, often by farmers who have left behind other cash crops such as tobacco. Having a plant-based malaria cure is of course nothing new. Quinine drugs, still used in some areas, are derived from the bark of a tree, the cinchona, which is a native of South America. But there are hopes that widespread cultivation of artemisia, combined with simpler methods for producing medicines, could offer great benefits in the treatment of malaria in Africa, at substantially lower costs. In Tanzania, farmers are growing the plant on behalf of a private company, African Artemisia. The leaves are then taken to Nairobi, where the medicinal ingredient, called artemisinin, is extracted. This is then exported to Europe for manufacture into drugs. Lazarus Laiser spoke to Peter Masawe about how small-scale farmers in Tanzania are involved in artemisia production. IN: ?We are planting this crop ? OUT: ? And also it is a malaria cure.? DUR?N: 5?08? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Peter Masawe of African Artemisia. The interview comes from a resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Masawe We are planting this crop for curing malaria, and in Tanzania we have many places where we are growing artemisia. Laiser You said artemisia is used to cure malaria. Is it that a person just takes direct the leaves or how is it? Masawe No, no. After cropping it we transport our leaves to our factory, and there we undergo the crystalisation. And then we export those crystals to Europe. After that, the medicine can come back to cure malaria. Laiser How did these farmers get involved in it? Masawe In some areas we have the contact farmers who are helping the farmers how to grow artemisia. And these contact farmers are under an agricultural advisor, and the agricultural advisors are under an area manager. And the area manager is under the country director. All these are the services of helping farmers how to grow artemisia. Laiser Now let us think of the quality, and also safety in cultivation. How is this controlled? Masawe Artemisia, as we said, is curing malaria, so we do not allow anyone to apply any chemical on this plant. You are not allowed. Laiser So what else can be used to protect the crop? Masawe Yes, actually with this crop we are getting a problem at the earliest stage of the crop. When we transplant it you can find the cut-worms, maybe for a short time, about one month. So what we tell the farmer to apply is pyrethrum powder, and this pyrethrum powder you can dry it, and then you grind it and then you use that powder just around the stem, just a little bit. And then you will finish the problem of cut-worms. And management of getting the good quality is starting from the point of harvesting. We have two ways of harvesting. First we have plucking, but now we are not encouraging the plucking because it gives us the lowest artemisinin content. Now we are going with chopping the crop completely from the field, and then the crop will become dry. We start sieving it after hitting the leaves, and then we remove the stalks, and then the farmer is supposed to put the artemisia in the bags from ?African Artemisia?. Because maybe the bags which they can use have been contaminated with other things. So we provide the bags to the farmer. Mind you, before we were just harvesting this crop after 10 months. But now we are telling the farmer that we have to harvest this crop after 5 to 6 months and not more. Because from 8, 9 to 10 months this crop tends to lose artemisinin content, and this makes even the farmer not to get the profit which he is supposed to get. So this is what we are doing now. Laiser How about the rain? How much rain is needed? Masawe Artemisia needs enough water during the transplanting, about 2-3 months mainly, and then after that there is no problem. But other farmers also who are having irrigation can grow this crop for 2 seasons per year, so you see the benefit the farmer is getting. Planting this crop in the area where the altitude is low, this plant will pre-flower earlier, so high altitude is better for this crop. Laiser Which other parts of the region, for example in Africa, are growing artemisia? Masawe I know China are dealing with this crop, and it is the place where it started. But here, I know Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Laiser What else can you say about artemisia generally, to the listeners who are listening to us now? Masawe I can say, let us mobilize farmers to get into artemisia growing in those areas which are conducive of growing artemisia, by looking at the altitude, even the soil type. This will make people to get enough money, it is a cash crop. And also it is a malaria cure. End of track.