Economic Botany

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

Economic Importance of the Medicinal Plant Trade in Sierra Leone1

Article

Abstract

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.

Literature Cited

  1. Arnold, M. J. E. and M. Ruiz Perez. 2001. Can non-timber forest products match tropical forest conservation and development objectives? Ecological Economics 39:437–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Assogbadjo, A. E., R. GlèlèKakaï, F. J. Chadare, L. Thomson, T. Kyndt, B. Sinsin, and P. Van Damme. 2008. Folk classification, perception and preferences of baobab products in West Africa: Consequences for species conservation and improvement. Economic Botany 62:74–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burkill, H. M. 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. Kew Publishing, Richmond, U.K.Google Scholar
  4. Cunningham, A. B. 1997. An Africa-wide overview of medicinal plant harvesting, conservation and health care. Pages 116–129 in G. Bodeker and P. Vantomme, eds., Medicinal plants for forest conservation and health care. Non-wood forest products 11. FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  5. Deighton, F. C. 1957. Vernacular botanical vocabulary of Sierra Leone. Government of Sierra Leone, Freetown, Sierra Leone.Google Scholar
  6. Fandohan, B., A. E. Assogbadjo, R. GlèlèKakaï, T. Kyndt, E. De Caluwe, J. T. C. Codija, and B. Sinsin. 2010. Women’s traditional knowledge, use value, and the contribution of tamarind (Tamarindus indica L.) to rural households’ cash income in Benin. Economic Botany 64:248–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). 1995. Non-wood forest products in nutrition. In: Non-wood forest products for sustainable forestry, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 17–27 January 1995. Non-Wood Forest Products 3. Rome: FAO.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1997. State of the world’s forests. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Rome.Google Scholar
  9. Fisher, M., M. Chaudhury, and B. Mccusker. 2010. Do forests help rural households adapt to climate variability? Evidence from southern Malawi. World Development 38:1241–1250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graziani, M. 1993. The uses of non-timber forest products among three Mende villages around Kambui Hills Forest Reserve, Sierra Leone. M.Sc. thesis, University College London, U.K.Google Scholar
  11. Koroma, A. P. 1997. The role of non-timber forest products in enhancing participation of the local community in conservation efforts: A case study of two rural communities in the proposed Outamba-Kilimi National Park, Sierra Leone. M.Sc. thesis, Dresden University of Technology, InternationaleForst-und Holzwirstschaft, Dresden, Germany.Google Scholar
  12. Koroma, L. and B. N. Ita. 2009. Phytochemical compounds and antimicrobial activity of three medicinal plants (Alchornea hirtella, Morinda geminata and Craterispermum laurinum) from Sierra Leone. African Journal of Biotechnology 8:6397–6401.Google Scholar
  13. Lebbie, A. R. 2001. Distribution, exploitation and valuation of non-timber forest products from a forest reserve in Sierra Leone. Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin, Madison.Google Scholar
  14. ——— and R. P. Guires. 1995. Ethnobotanical value and conservation of sacred groves of the KpaaMende in Sierra Leone. Economic Botany 49:197–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Marshall, C. A. and W. Hawthorne. 2012. Regeneration ecology of the useful flora of the Putu Range Rainforest, Liberia. Economic Botany 66:398–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marshall, E., A. C. Newton, and K. Schreckenberg. 2003. Commercialisation of non-timber products: First steps in analysing the factors influencing success. International Forestry Review 5:128–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Marshall, S. J., P. F. Russel, J. D. Phillpson, G. C. Kirby, D. C. Warhurst, and C. W. Wright. 2000. Antiplasmodial and antiamoebic activities of medicinal plants from Sierra Leone. Phytochemistry Research 14:356–358.Google Scholar
  18. McMillen, H. L. 2008. Conserving the roots of trade: Local ecological knowledge of ethnomedicines from Tanga, Tanzania markets. Ph.D. thesis, University of Hawaii, Manoa.Google Scholar
  19. Munoz-Mingarro, D., N. Acero, F. Llinares, J. M. Pozuelo, A. Galan de Mera, and J. A. Vicenten. 2003. Biological activity of extracts from Catalpa bignoniodes Walt (Bignoniaceae). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 87:163–167.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Myers, N., R. A. Mittermeier, C. G. Mittermeier, G. A. B. Da Fonseca, and J. Kent. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Namukobe, J., J. M. Kasenene, B. T. Kiremire, R. Byamukama, M. Kamatenesi-Mugisha, S. Krief, V. Dumontet, and J. D. Kabasa. 2011. Traditional plants used for medicinal purposes by local communities around the northern sector of Kibale National Park, Uganda. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 136:236–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Obiri, J., M. Lawes, and M. Mukolwe. 2002. The dynamics and sustainable use of high value tree species of the coastal Pondoland forests of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Forest Ecology and Management 166:131–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ros-Tonen, M. 2000. The role of non-timber forest products in sustainable tropical forest management. Holz als Roh-und Werkstoff 58:196–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sheldon, J. W., M. J. Balick, and S. A. Laird. 1997. Medicinal plants: Can utilization and conservation coexist? Advances in Economic Botany 12. The New York Botanical Garden, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Turay, B. M. S. 1997. in D. E. Young, ed., Medicinal plants of Sierra Leone, a compendium. University of Alberta Centre for the Cross-Cultural Study of Health and Healing, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.Google Scholar
  26. van Andel, T. R., J. A. Behari-Ramdas, R. M. Havinga, and S. Groenendijk. 2007. The medicinal plant trade in Suriname. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 5:351–372.Google Scholar
  27. ———, B. Myren, and S. van Onselen. 2012. Ghana’s herbal market. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 140:368–378.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Vodouhê, F. G., O. Coulibaly, A. E. Assogbadjo, and B. Sinsin. 2008. Medicinal plant commercialization in Benin: An analysis of profit distribution equity across supply chain actors and its effect on the sustainable use of harvested species. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2:331–340.Google Scholar
  29. Williams, V. L., E. T. F. Witkowski, and K. Balkwill. 2005. Application of diversity indices to appraise plant availability in the traditional medicinal markets of Johannesburg, South Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation 4:2971–3001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ———, ———, and ———. 2007. Volume and financial value of species traded in the medicinal plant markets of Gauteng, South Africa. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology 14:584–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations