alexa Medicinal and aromatic plants in agroforestry systems


Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology

Author(s): MR Rao, MC Palada, BN Becker

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A large number of people in developing countries have traditionally depended on products derived from plants, especially from forests, for curing human and livestock ailments. Additionally, several aromatic plants are popular for domestic and commercial uses. Collectively they are called medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). About 12.5% of the 422 000 plant species documented worldwide are reported to have medicinal values; but only a few hundred are known to be in cultivation. With dwindling supplies from natural sources and increasing global demand, the MAPs will need to be cultivated to ensure their regular supply as well as conservation. Since many of the MAPs are grown under forest cover and are shade tolerant, agroforestry offers a convenient strategy for promoting their cultivation and conservation. Several approaches are feasible: integrating shade tolerant MAPs as lower strata species in multistrata systems; cultivating short cycle MAPs as intercrops in existing stands of plantation tree-crops and new forest plantations; growing medicinal trees as shade providers, boundary markers, and on soil conservation structures; interplanting MAPs with food crops; involving them in social forestry programs; and so on. The growing demand for MAPs makes them remunerative alternative crops to the traditional ones for smallholders in the tropics. Being underexploited species with promising potential, the MAPs require research attention on a wide array of topics ranging from propagation methods to harvesting and processing techniques, and germplasm collection and genetic improvement to quality control and market trends. Joint forest management with farmers and contract farming with drug companies with buyback arrangement will promote cultivation of medicinal plants.

This article was published in Agroforestry Systems and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology

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