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Published on:December, 2015
Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, 2016; 50(1):80-89
Pharmaceutical Education | doi:10.5530/ijper.50.1.11

Challenges Militating against Sustainable Economic Development Potential of African Aromatic, Beverage and Medicinal herbs: A South African Perspective

Authors and affiliation (s):

Spiers Unati1, Nkomo Mpumelelo1, Ngezimana Wonder2, Antwi Akwasi Michael1, and Fhatuwani Nixwell Mudau1

1Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, University of South Africa, Private Bag X6, Florida, 1710, South Africa.

2Department of Crop Science, Marondera College of Agricultural Science and Technology, University of Zimbabwe, P. Box 35, Marondera, Zimbabwe.


Context: Medicinal and Aromatic plants (MAPs) extracts have become an essential part of exports in the developing countries. Due to the rich diversity of MAPs and as consumers of natural products increase, there is a potential to exploit this niche market. Aim: The objective(s) of the study was to identify and analyze challenges militating against economic development potential of African aromatic, beverage and medicinal herbs industry. Settings and Design: The study was undertaken in three (3) provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape) of South Africa. The population included all men, women and youth involved in production/harvesting and trading of MAPs. Four focused groups of randomly selected 30 individuals per group from the list of resource constrained farmers provided by local extension officers were formed per province. Materials and Methods: Using desk-top reviews, focus group discussions and key stakeholders’ interviews, the study employed holistic and participatory methodologies to examine aspects of African medicinal and aromatic agricultural industry in South Africa. Triangulation of qualitative data gathered from previous research and reports, interviews, focus group discussions and industry visits observations were done. Information was gathered from primary users of agricultural technologies, while information on technology development and use was from developing farmers. Key government units relating to agricultural medicinal and aromatic industry were consulted and reports used to verify findings from focus group discussions. Secondary data was from literature review, namely; annual reports from the Agricultural extension (Agritex) office, non-governmental organizations and research institutions. The majority of the data/information sources pointed to the need for encouragement towards cultivation of MAPs as field and horticultural crops. Statistical analysis used: All the data from focus group discussions, key informant interviews, secondary data and field visit observations was consolidated (the South African perspective) and analyzed using Atlas software to summarize the data. Information from the key informants’ interviews was used to triangulate information gathered from the desktop review and focus group discussions. Results: Major challenges observed from the study included; very lowyielding species, poor quality outputs and poor processing methods. In addition, most MAPs do not adhere to agricultural propagation practices, deterring them as desirable crops. Moreover, there are many differences in traditional medicines so produced in respect of quality. Determining the right medicinal concentrations, dosage and toxicity concerns require highly efficient modern technologies. Other issues of concern revealed included, intellectual property rights, lack of access to information, marketing of products and sustainable conservation. Conclusion: The preference by consumers to have natural products has grown over the years. This increases annually and has allowed medicinal, aromatic plants to present a unique and niche market base for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other industries (food & industrial use). South African farmers can exploit this new industry to grow the sector, create jobs and increase economic development.

Key words: Medicinal Aromatic Plants, Commercialization, Challenges, South Africa.


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The Official Journal of Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI)
(Registered under Registration of Societies Act XXI of 1860 No. 122 of 1966-1967, Lucknow)

Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (IJPER) [ISSN-0019-5464] is the official journal of Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTI) and is being published since 1967.


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