Economic Botany

, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 299–312 | Cite as

Economic Importance of the Medicinal Plant Trade in Sierra Leone1

  • Amadu Jusu
  • Aida Cuni SanchezEmail author


Economic Importance of the Medicinal Plant Trade in Sierra Leone. This study identified, quantified, and evaluated the economic importance of the medicinal plant trade in Sierra Leone so that recommendations for conservation could be made. We carried out a quantitative market survey. We interviewed 120 vendors in three major cities and all vendors in two towns near a national park. Apart from the semistructured interviews, specimen samples were collected and identified, prices noted, and sales units measured. More than 40 species were traded in urban markets, nine species being the most frequently traded in all three cities. Only two plants were traded in the towns: Xylopia aethiopica (Dunal) A.Rich.and Garcinia kola Heckel. Most plants were traded in the form of dried bark or leaves. It was estimated that at least USD 64,000 are being annually traded in informal markets in major cities, the nine species most frequently traded contributing most of the retail value. Little information was found on import/export figures. Results from this study indicate that the trade of certain medicinal plants could be promoted as an alternative livelihood strategy for edge communities of protected areas. However, more information is needed on harvesting techniques, source and abundance of the species traded.

Key Words

West Africa medicinal plants ethnobotany market survey non–timber forest product (NTFP) conservation 

Importancia económica del comercio de plantas medicinales en Sierra Leone. Este estudio identificó, cuantificó y evaluó la importancia económica de la comercialización de plantas medicinales en Sierra León, con el fin de poder hacer recomendaciones para su conservación. Éste es un estudio de mercado cuantitativo. Entrevistamos a 120 comerciantes en tres grandes ciudades (mercados urbanos), y todos los comerciantes de los mercados de dos grandes pueblos cercanos a un Parque Nacional. Además de las entrevistas, recogimos e identificamos muestras de plantas y registramos precios y unidades de venta. Encontramos que en los mercados urbanos se comercializan más de 40 especies, entre las cuales nueve son vendidas en gran cantidad. En los mercados de los pueblos estudiados sólo se comercializan dos especies: Xylopia aethiopica (Dunal) A.Rich.and Garcinia kola Heckel. La mayoría de plantas se venden en forma de hojas o corteza seca. Calculamos que el valor total de ventas en un año en mercados urbanos es superior a $64,000, y que la mayor parte de esta cantidad es aportada por nueve especies. Encontramos poca información sobre la importación y exportación de plantas medicinales. Los resultados de este estudio indican que se podría promover la venta de algunas plantas medicinales como estrategia de diversificación de ingresos en comunidades situadas en los alrededores de reservas forestales. Sin embargo sería necesario recoger más información sobre las técnicas de recolección, el origen y la abundancia de estas especies antes de promover su mayor comercialización.



Amadu Jusu is grateful to his parents for their support. We are thankful to all the participants in this study for their time and interest in collaborating. We also thank M. Swaray and A. M. B. Feika for identifying certain plants and contributing to the discussions.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gola Rainforest National ParkKenemaSierra Leone
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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