· Agarwood
· Bael
· Honey
· Jubaea chilensis (Coquito de palma, palma chilena)
· Karite
· Marula - a food for all seasons
· Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)


Agarwood

Agarwood use and trade and CITES implementation for Aquilaria malaccensis
The Trade Records and Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) Network recently launched the report Heart of the matter: agarwood use and trade and CITES implementation for Aquilaria malaccensis, to coincide with the XXI IUFRO World Congress, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Agarwood is just one of the many names for the resinous, fragrant and highly valuable heartwood produced by Aquilaria malaccensis and other species of the Indomalesian tree genus Aquilaria. Agarwood has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in, for example, Ayurvedic, Tibetan and traditional East Asian medicine. Use of agarwood for the production of perfume and incense (often used in association with certain religious practices) has an equally long history. Agarwood chips can sell for several hundred to several thousand United States dollars per kilogram. Indonesia and Malaysia supply the largest quantities of agarwood in international trade, with other countries such as Viet Nam also exporting significant amounts.

Unfortunately, with demand for agarwood for these and other uses remaining strong today, there is concern that wild populations of Aquilaria malaccensis and other Aquilaria species are being over-harvested. Eight species are currently considered to be threatened according to World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List Categories, with exploitation specifically highlighted as a threat for six of these species. Conservation concerns prompted the listing of A. malaccensis in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1995.

This report analyses the implementation of the CITES listing and reviews available information on the wider trade in agarwood. Available data on international trade volumes (approximately 700 tonnes reported in 1997) are provided, harvest and trade controls in key range countries documented, and actions proposed to address issues such as overexploitation and illegal trade. A need for better information on the biology and status of those Aquilaria spp. in trade and the flow of benefits resulting from exploitation of these species is highlighted, as are more effective harvest and trade controls. The report calls for the convening of a stakeholders' workshop to facilitate cooperation in further examining these issues and identifying actions necessary to secure the future of this important biological, economic and cultural resource. TRAFFIC will continue to work towards the conservation and sustainable management of this genus and would welcome hearing from others to discuss potential collaboration.

The report and executive summary are available in both PDF and printed formats. The pdf versions can be downloaded from www.traffic.org/news/agarwood . (Contributed by: Angela Barden, TRAFFIC.)

For more information, or to order a printed copy, please contact your nearest TRAFFIC office, or:
TRAFFIC International, 219c Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, UK.
E-mail:
traffic@trafficint.org or angela.barden@trafficint.org;
www.traffic.org


Bael

Nepal is very rich in plant diversity. It occupies only 0.09 percent of the total land area of the world but possesses nearly 2.5 percent of the total species of flowering plants.

Nepal is equally rich in the bael tree (Aegle marmelos). The tree has naturally spread to all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries, including Nepal, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Its economic value has not yet been explored in these countries. However, its religious, cultural and medicinal values in Nepal have been recognized in a traditional manner on the basis of its indigenous knowledge and technology (IKT).

The tree is deciduous, with trifoliate aromatic leaves, and grows to a height of 6-8 m. The size of the mature bael fruit varies from 550 g to more than 3 kg.

Various chemical constituents, namely alkaloids, coumarines, steroids, etc., have been isolated and identified from different parts of the bael tree. Essential oils have been identified in the leaves, twigs and fruits.

The ripe fruit is considered to be a tonic, a restorative, an astringent, a laxative, and good for the heart and brain. The unripe fruit is regarded as an astringent, digestive and is usually prescribed for diarrhoea and dysentery.

The bael fruit is extremely nutritious and has a very high riboflavin content. Reports from Brazil indicate that A. marmelos is as rich in ascorbic acid as the sweet orange.

A most important aspect is that bael can be used as an opportunity for resource-poor farmers in those areas where there is a natural bael forest. This is due to the fact that different parts of the bael tree (except the timber) can be brought into value added processing to generate employment and income at the farm and village levels. One important example of this is the production of bael jam, jelly, marmalade and squash, without much investment.

A joint effort of the Green Energy Mission (Nepal) and the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), Nepal, was undertaken in this field (bael jam/jelly manufacture/marketing, etc.) by providing training to locally based organizations and groups.

In Nepal, the bael tree and its IKT and natural products are the properties of the Nepalese people. The Green Energy Mission (Nepal) is committed to ensuring that no developed countries or multinational companies prohibit or restrict Nepalese people in utilizing the tree's IKT and value added processing, as well as its future research and development. (Source: Green Energy Newsletter, 6[1].)

For more information, please contact:
Green Energy Mission/Nepal,
PO Box 10647, Anam Nagar, Kathmandu 2, Nepal.
Fax: +977 1 410857.


Honey

Honey hunters in the Sundarbans
One of the most fascinating areas of the world where honey hunting maintains its historical traditions and importance is the Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India. The Sundarbans, the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the world, occupies an area of about 10 000 km2, 60 percent of which is in Bangladesh and 40 percent in India. Numerous international programmes have attempted to preserve the biological richness of the Sundarbans, and recently it has been acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site.

In Bangladesh, the Sundarbans has been managed and protected by the Forest Department for nearly 125 years and has the status of a reserved forest with controlled and very limited human access.

The Sundarbans is home to the giant honey bee Apis dorsata. There is an annual migration of thousands of colonies of this honey bee into the Sundarbans, beginning in December and continuing until January and February.

Because of the nature of the mangrove forest, the tree species do not grow to great heights. Apis dorsata normally builds exposed nests high in the forest canopy but here must construct its large, single-comb nests relatively close to the ground, and therefore accessible to the honey hunters.

It is estimated that in Bangladesh 2 000 honey hunters utilize the Sundarbans during a controlled two-month hunting season in April and May. The main period of honey production takes place during April and June. Nectar is obtained from three major tree species: Aegiceras corniculatum, Ceriops decandra and Sonneratia apetala. In Bangladesh, the Sundarbans honey harvest is estimated to be between 130 and 185 tonnes per year. The wax harvest is estimated to be between 42 and 45 tonnes.

The honey hunters must obtain permits from the Forestry Department before entering the Sundarbans. In addition, the Forestry Department allocates honey and wax quotas per hunter, currently set at 78 kg of honey and 20 kg of wax, for which the Forestry Department charges approximately US$4 for the honey allotment and US$3 for the wax allotment.

The honey harvested, estimated to be 50 percent of all the honey produced in Bangladesh, is sold locally for US$2-3/kg. The wax sells for about US$3/kg. Packed honey retails for approximately US$7/kg.

(Source: Beekeeping and Development, No. 56, September/October 2000.)


Jubaea chilensis (Coquito de palma, palma chilena)

La palma chilena, de la familia Palmae, es una especie endémica de la zona mediterránea de Chile. Es una de las palmeras más australes del mundo, cuyo ambiente se ubica entre el río Limarí y el río Maule. Hoy se encuentra en escasos puntos de su área de distribución, destacándose los palmares de Ocoa y Cocalán.

Se la utiliza para la extracción de savia (para hacer miel de palma), recolección de frutos, y confección de escobas artesanales y cestería con sus hojas. El raquis de la hoja se utiliza para cercas, y las fibras de los folíolos se usan para relleno en mueblería. A pesar de la variedad de usos, sólo la producción de miel se hace en forma industrial, y en menor escala se comercializan los frutos en el mercado nacional.

La extracción de savia se inicia a fines de octubre y termina a fines de abril del año siguiente. La palma viene desarraigada parcialmente para voltearla y se eliminan las hojas del ápice por donde exuda la savia. El 20 por ciento de los árboles exudan toda la savia en el primer año, el resto lo hace en la temporada siguiente.

Dos veces al día se recoge la savia de los recipientes puestos para este fin en cada palma. También en ese momento se limpia la superficie del ápice para evitar la cristalización de la savia que, una vez obtenida, se somete a un proceso de concentración por calentamiento en recipientes de cobre. Este concentrado de savia se envía a la fabrica donde se le agregan una serie de aditivos como jugo de coco, sacarosa y glucosa, para de esta forma ser enlatada y comercializada.

Su fruto, el coquito, es una semilla relativamente pequeña en comparación con los cocos de otras especies. Tiene aproximadamente de 3 a 4 cm de diámetro, es muy aceitoso y de excelente sabor. Se lo emplea comiéndolo solo, en repostería o agregándolo al proceso de producción de miel de la misma palma. (Fuente: Productos Forestales No Madereros en Chile, Serie Forestal N° 10, RLC/FAO. Extracto.)

[Para más información, consulte Non-Wood News N° 5.]


Karite

Shea nuts are primarily grown in West and Central Africa in the semi-arid Sahel, referred to by traders as the "Shea Belt". Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. paradoxa and Vitellaria paradoxa subsp. nilotica are the two main varieties. Vitellaria p. paradoxa is exported in the largest volume and grows throughout the West African region. Vitellaria p. nilotica is produced primarily in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Shea nut products, the solid fat (butter or stearin) and the liquid oil (olein), are ideal for use as raw materials in cooking oil, margarine, cosmetics, soap, detergents and candles, but they have found their primary market niche as a substitute for cocoa butter in the chocolate and confectionery industry.

Shea nut trees grow widely and naturally in West Africa. They only begin to bear fruit after about 20 years and do not reach maturity for 45 years. They may continue to produce nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity.

The nuts, which are embedded in a soft fruit, fall to the ground during the harvesting period (typically June to August). They are then buried in pits, which causes the pulp to ferment and disintegrate and produces enough heat to prevent germination. The nuts are dried for a few days and are later shelled and winnowed, usually by hand. The kernels are dried further to reduce moisture content from about 40 percent to about 7 percent.

A process called fractionation separates the oil (olein) and butter (stearin). This can be done locally and allows for the extraction of the liquid oil by a process involving the heating and kneading of the crushed kernels and straining the resultant oily mass.

Manufacturers in the chocolate and other food industries prefer to buy the shea nuts as opposed to the butter so that they can have as much control as possible over the processing and quality of the final product. Nuts are also preferred because they can be stored for up to five years in the right conditions, while the butter is more expensive to store and deteriorates more rapidly.

Shea butter is produced on a commercial scale in Europe using hydraulic presses on the nuts and then placing them in hot air ovens. The product is then bleached with a hexane solvent. The butter must then be stored and transported in cool conditions and in airtight containers to avoid becoming rancid.

Shea nut supply far outstrips demand. More than 600 000 tonnes of the dominant variety, Vitellaria paradoxa, are produced in West Africa (see Table 1 below). Most is used as cooking oil or as butter for the skin and hair. The other variety, Vitellaria nilotica, has a superior quality and is preferred by the cosmetics firms. Unfortunately this variety is primarily grown and processed in northern Uganda and southern Sudan, both currently states of civil unrest, and so it is generally unavailable on the market. Several other countries, including Israel and Germany, are attempting to replicate this variety.

FAO's export statistics of major supplying countries are provided in Tables 2 and 3 below, although they are not considered to be completely accurate and are primarily estimates. Exports during the last two years of available statistics hovered around 50 000 tonnes with an export value of around US$10 million. Exports in 1996 and 1997 are more than double the five-year low recorded in 1993, but lower than the high recorded in 1994. (Source: www.raise.org/natural/ )

TABLE 1. Shea nut production, 1994-98 (tonnes)

 

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

Benin

15 500

15 000

15 000

15 000

15 000

Burkina Faso

70 100

75 700

70 000

70 000

70 000

Côte d'Ivoire

19 785

20 000

20 000

20 000

20 000

Ghana

57 000

56 000

55 000

55 000

55 000

Mali

85 000

85 000

85 000

85 000

85 000

Nigeria

353 000

384 000

345 000

355 000

355 000

Togo

7 000

8 520

2 504

6 500

6 500

TOTAL

607 385

644 220

592 504

606 500

606 500

Source: FAOSTAT.

TABLE 2. Worldwide shea nut exports by volume, 1993-97 (tonnes)

HS Code 120792

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Ghana

1 793

13 988

6 000

19 654

19 654

Benin

7 870

15 266

9 504

9 504

9 504

Côte d'Ivoire

4 792

12 163

11 195

5 422

5 422

Burkina Faso

5 000

5 000

7 633

7 633

7 633

Togo

1 112

6 562

4 606

8 330

5 284

Nigeria

-

5 000

-

-

-

Mali

500

500

500

500

500

United Kingdom

-

215

182

28

-

Other

28

10

34

21

31

TOTAL

21 095

58 704

39 654

51 092

48 028

Source: FAOSTAT.

TABLE 3. Worldwide shea nut exports by value, 1993-97 (us$'000)

HS Code 120792

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Ghana

340

2 590

1 500

5,846

5 846

Benin

1 071

2 223

1 400

1 400

1 400

Côte d'Ivoire

1 319

1 601

1 973

793

793

Togo

137

764

788

1,274

972

Burkina Faso

500

500

847

847

847

Nigeria

-

1 500

-

-

-

Mali

150

150

150

150

150

United Kingdom

-

45

37

9

-

Other

6

9

38

10

33

TOTAL

3 523

9 382

6 733

10 329

10 041

Source: FAOSTAT.


Marula - a food for all seasons

Marula (Sclerocarya birrea ) is a keystone tree species of Africa's semi-arid woodlands. Its edible vitamin-rich fruit and storable nutlike seed kernels, rich in proteins and lipids, have made it a traditional African "wild" food for all seasons (probably throughout the course of human evolution). This, coupled with its medicinal value and its potential for economic development and domestication, has prompted a United Kingdom Department for International Development-funded project at the University of Wales-Bangor, in collaboration with the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the University of Swaziland, to produce a monograph on Sclerocarya birrea, synthesizing all published data on the species (biological, ecological, economic, etc.); a distribution map; and extension materials. (Source: ETFRN News, No. 31, Autumn-Winter 2000.)

For more information, please contact the author:
Eileen M. O'Brien, SAFS, University
of Wales-Bangor, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, Wales, UK.
E-mail:
j.b.hall@bangor.ac.uk or e.m.obrien@bangor.ac.uk


Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus )

The red or Madagascar periwinkle Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don - syn. Lochnera rosea (L.) Reichb. f. or Vinca rosea (L.), representative of the family Apocynaceae, originates in the tropical forests of Madagascar and is now found pan-tropically. It is currently cultivated in China, India, Madagascar, Israel, the United States and in all countries of central and southern Europe.

Its main use is in the commercialization of the alkaloids vincristine and vincaleukoblastine, which are used in the chemotherapeutical treatment of Hodgkin's disease and leukaemia and which cannot be produced in the laboratory without supplies of the plant itself. The concentration of both vinblastine and vincristine in the plant material (leaves, roots) is very low, 0.0005 percent on a dry weight basis. Therefore, huge quantities have to be harvested, in order obtain a substantial amount of alkaloids.

The total amount of Catharanthus roseus material in trade is not known; however, figures from Madagascar indicate an annual export of about 1 000 tonnes.

The price paid for vincristine is reported to reach US$200 000/kg. Some indicative figures regarding the overall trade are:

· Products derived from the periwinkle had a wholesale value of US$35 million in 1977, which is estimated to correspond to a retail value of US$140 million.
·
In another estimate, the worldwide trade in vincristine is worth about US$50 million per year.

In Hungary, the yield of plant parts is 3.5-4.5 tonnes/ha of fresh herb, or 1.0-1.5 tonnes/ha of dried herb. Under irrigated conditions, 1.5 tonnes/ha of roots, 1.5 tonnes/ha of stems and 3 tonnes/ha of leaves can be obtained. (Source: Extracted from various sources by FAO's NWFP Programme.)

For more information, please:
consult the EcoPort Plant Record
(www.ecoport.org): either click on
"Get full record" or, in the ID page,
go to category "Crop" and
"Get full category";
contact Denzil Phillips
(www.denzil.com; e-mail: denzil@denzil.com or info@denzil.com ) for information on export and markets

Catharanthus roseus

A wealth of folk remedies are prepared from the plant, which is regarded as having astringent, diaphoretic, emmenagogic, abortifacient, bechic, cardiotonic, hypotensive, febrifugic and tranquillizing properties.

The primary active chemical constituents, which are most concentrated in root bark, are the alkaloids ajmaline, serpentine and reserpine, but at least 12 others have been positively identified, including leurosine and vincaleukoblastine. Vinceine, tetrahydroalstonine and lochnerine, which are also present in the root bark, are important for pharmaceutical purposes. (Source: Medicine trees of the tropics, by Robin Levingston and Rogelio Zamora, in Unasylva, No. 140 - The importance of medicinal plants. An international journal of forestry and forest industries, Vol. 35. 1983. FAO: www.fao.org/docrep/q1460e/q1460e02.htm)



[Contents]