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Asian network on medicinal and aromatic plants (ANMAP)

Recent activities
Proposed activities

Narong Chomchalow
Regional Plant Production Officer
FAO Regional Off ice for the Asia and Pacific


Why MAPs?

Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are a large interrelated group of plants possessing active ingredients Used in curing ailments, and/or aromatic compounds used as sources of flavours and fragrances. They have been important to mankind, both socially and economically, for thousands of years. People have long used MAPs to cure human ailments and those of domesticated animals, as well as to protect crops from pests.

The importance of medicinal plants as therapeutic agents and their role in the health care and economies of developing countries, is well recognised. This includes not only the use of herbal medicines and drugs derived from medicinal plants, but also industrial scale utilization of medicinal plants.

Aromatic plants which generate volatile essential oils and other useful aroma chemicals are important raw materials for the food, cosmetic and perfume industries.

At present, MAPs are grown by small-scale farmers using primitive production technology. To satisfy industrial demand for raw materials, MAPs are collected from the wild and exported to industrialised countries with little or no processing. Although a lot has been done in the fields of phytochemistry and pharmacology, very little research and development has been attempted in germplasm conservation, selection, breeding and agronomic practices.

Why Asian MAPs?

Asia has abundant species of MAPs. Traditional medicine has been practiced in Asia since ancient times. The Chinese and the Indians have made use of medicinal plants to cure ailments for thousands of years. Similarly, most other Asian countries have developed their own systems of traditional medicine by modifying the Chinese and/or Indian systems.

Asia is also well known for its aromatic plants, particularly spices. Moluccas and Sri Lanka, for example, are both known as "Spice Island:" The famous "Spice Route" has linked Venice, Arabia, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia (Malacca), Indonesia (Java and Moluccas) and China through spice trading since the 16th century.

Asia has several advantages over other regions, such as well-documented knowledge, long-standing practice of traditional medicine, and the potential for social and economic development of MAPs in large-scale primary health care programmes and industrial-scale production.

Moreover, the potential to expand cooperation among countries of the Region is also great.

Why a network?

A network is an institutional framework committed to cooperation in certain disciplinary activities. The network approach has been particularly useful when the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) concept is being encouraged as a means of exchanging relevant technologies, expertise, and information among members. A recent FAO study revealed that networks help to reduce or eliminate duplication among national institutions, and provide a cost-effective instrument for information exchange and institution building. Networks also encourage collaboration in technology development, and make the most effective use of limited facilities.

Why an Asian network on MAP?

Recently, a Regional Expert Consultation on "Breeding and Improvement of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Asia" was held at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. The participants (MAP experts from 10 countries in Asia) expressed their need to establish a regional network for research and development of medicinal and aromatic plants, in order to strengthen research capabilities through technical cooperation among member countries. Although a few networks related to MAPs already exist, none of them concentrate on the production aspect.

Consequently, the participants unanimously endorsed the establishment of the Asian Network on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ANMAP), and requested FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific to provide logistical support, including nominal staff, facilities and operating funds.


Overall objectives

The overall objective of ANMAP is to assist the participating institutions/departments of the cooperating countries in exchanging information, germplasm, planting materials, experimental data and expertise, as well as to establish effective cooperation in research on mutually selected topics.

Specific objectives

Specific objectives of ANMAP include the following:

1. To collect, collate and disseminate information on MAP research, production, processing, trade and development among the cooperating countries.

2. To document and disseminate success stories on production and post-harvest handling of MAPs under varying agroclimatic conditions of Asia.

3. To exchange expertise and to organise training courses, workshops and expert meetings to improve capabilities in the individual countries through TCDC arrangements.

4. To assist cooperating countries in bridging specific technical gaps in research and development of MAPs.

5. To facilitate the exchange of germplasm among cooperating countries and to monitor the progress and usefulness of such exchanges.

6. To coordinate regional yield trials of selected clones, improved varieties and hybrids developed by cooperating countries.


In pursuance of the above objectives, ANMAP may undertake the following activities:

1. Periodic compilation and dissemination of country-specific information regarding progress and problems in the production, post-harvest handling, distribution and utilization of MAPs.

2. Prepare directories of the research and development work on MAPs which is currently being carried out, including a list of researchers and the facilities available in participating countries.

3. Promote the exchange and utilization of germplasm through preparation of a germplasm catalogue and monitoring of the performance of clones, varieties, and hybrids being tested in various locations.

4. Document and circulate success stories on production, processing and distribution of MAPs. Publish technical bulletins and information leaflets on selected topics.

5. Organise short-term training courses and inter-country study tours on breeding, propagation/seed production, agronomy, pest management, post-harvest handling, quality control, marketing and other areas as needed, through TCDC arrangements.

6. Organise meetings, workshops, and consultations to review past progress and proposals for future work programmes.

7. Undertake specific cooperative research to bridge technology gaps in areas identified by ANMAP.

8. Maintain liaison with other regional and international organizations concerned with research, development and information on MAPs, and provide specialist advice on specific problems if needed.

9. Prepare, an annual progress report for general distribution to members and other interested organizations on the progress of joint activities.


ANMAP is broadly operated as follows:

1. The Secretariat of the Network is located at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAPA), Bangkok. The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) provides overall direction for linkages -among concerned national and international institutions.

2. The Regional Plant Production Officer (Industrial Crops) of FAO/RAPA is the Secretary of ANMAP and convenes all meetings of the Network.

3. Participation in ANMAP does not entail any fee. However, member countries are expected to:

· supply information and report to the ANMAP Secretariat periodically;

· set aside local currency to facilitate the activities of ANMAP, particularly those which are in the spirit of TCDC,

· share germplasm research results and technologies with interested countries;

· wherever possible, share in the cost of attending meetings of ANMAP.



The membership of ANMAP is open to national-level research and development agencies dealing with MAPs in the cooperating countries in Asia. International and regional agencies, and NGOs working on or interested in MAPs, are welcome to join ANMAP as resource agencies.

Charter members

The founding members of ANMAP are given in table 1. Country Representatives are focal points for ANMAP activities in their respective countries.

Regular members

These are many research and development agencies in Asian countries that are interested in joining ANMAP. About 20 have already applied for membership.

International and regional agencies

At least five international and regional organizations have expressed interest in joining ANMAP. Among them are various divisions of UNIDO, UNESCO, FAO, and ESCAP

Recent activities

The following MAP-related publications were recently prepared and published by the Secretariat:


NANMAP (Newsletter of ANMAP)

- Bimonthly (first issue -116/93, 8 pp.)

BANMAP (Bulletin of ANMAP)

- Semi-annually (first issue -Jan-dun. 95, 36pp)


Report of the Regional Export Consultation on Breeding and Improvement of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Asia (RECBIMAP)

Proceedings of the RECBIMAP

Study tours

Technical visits were organized for the participants and observers of the RECBIMAP to visit: (1) Thai-China Flavours and Fragrances Industry Co. Ltd. and its factory located at Lat Bua Luang District, Ayatthaya Province, Thailand (3 Jun. 93); (2) Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden, located in Menglun, Mengla County, Yunnan Province, China (4-5 Jun. 93); and (3) Kunming Institute of Botany, located in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China (6 Jun. 93).

Liason with other regional and international agencies

UNIDO: ANMAP has promoted activities related to the industrial utilization of MAPs through technical collaboration. Will support a proposed "Workshop on Promotion and Development of Industrial Utilization of MAPs."

Table 1. Charter members of ANMAP



Country representatives

1 China

Institute of Medicinal Plant Development

Prof. Xiao Peigen

2 India

National Bureau for Plant Genet Resources

Dr. Rajendra Gupta

3 Indonesia

Research Institute for Spices & Medicinal Plants

Dr. Pasnl Wahid

4 Korea, Rep of

Natural Products Research Institute

Prof. Chi Hyung-Joon

5 Nepal

Development Associates

Dr. Pradip M. Adhikary

6 Pakistan

Council Sci & Indust Res. Lab Peshawar

Dr. S. Fazal Hussain

7 Philippines

Institute of Biological Science UPLB

Prof. L. S. de Padua

8 Sri Lanka

National Botanical Gardens

Mr. D. B. Sumithraarachchi

9 Thailand

Department of Agriculture

Dr. Prateungsri inchaisri

10 Vietnam

Science-Production Union of Vietnamese Ginseng & Med. Plants

Dr. Nguyen Thoi Nham

ESCAP: ANMAP has established linkage with the Trade and Tourism Division of ESCAP.

It is envisaged that ANMAP and FAO, UNIDO and ESCAP will work in close collaboration, on production (FAO), processing and utilization (UNIDO), and marketing (ESCAP) of MAPs for benefit of member countries. In addition, the following agencies have also been approached:

FAO/RLAC: Joint activities (e.g., exchange of publications, joint meetings, etc.) are being pursued between the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and the Region Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

ITC: Information is being exchanged.

UNESCO: A number of networks related to MAPs have been operating under the auspices of UNESCO. ANMAP has established links with these networks.

Assistance to Member Countries

ANMAP assisted Vietnam in finding marketing outlets for ginseng products. Three Japanese companies and one Thai company have been approached; one Japanese and one Thai company subsequently sent a fact-finding mission to Vietnam.

Proposed activities


· Prepare and publish a directory of research and development work on MAPs currently being carried out, including a list of institutes and scientists (to be undertaken in 1994).

· Compile and publish information on MAP gardens in the member countries (to be started in 1994).

· Document and circulate success stories on production, processing, and distribution of MAPs (to be started in 1 994)


· Compilation and disseminatation of country-specific information on progress and problems of production, post-harvest handling, distribution and utilization of MAPs.

. Periodic updating of the Directory of Institutes and Scientists dealing with MAPs.

· Preparation of a germplasm catalogue and monitoring of the performance of clones, varieties and hybrids being tested in various locations.

· Organisation of short-term training courses and in-country study tours on breeding, propagation/seed production, agronomy, pest management, post-harvest handling, quality control, and marketing. Organisation of the Second Regional Expert Consultation on MAPs (proposed date June 1996).

Aromati plants, such as Desmos chinensis, are in strong demand for the food, cosmetic and perfume industries.

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