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10. RECOMMENDATIONS


10.1 Recommendations for optimizing opportunities in market demand
10.2 Recommendations for optimizing opportunities in market supply
10.3 Recommendations for minimizing constraints in market supply


The market study has shown that the under-development of many aspects of the market has significant negative implications for consumer welfare, market players, state expenditure and biodiversity. The development of the market is therefore critical in promoting widespread welfare and in limiting the costs (direct and indirect) which society will bear as a result of continued market under-development.

Development requires actions at two key levels. Firstly, coordinated support for the indigenous medicine industry needs to be developed amongst policy-makers in all levels of government (and within a range of departments), in business and in NGOs. A supportive, consistent and positive policy and regulatory environment needs to be developed for the indigenous medicine industry. Secondly, development actions are required within the market itself. However, little significant market development will occur without a positive policy environment and a coherent strategy for industry transformation.

The actions required to develop the indigenous medicine markets are discussed below, largely in terms of the opportunities and constraints facing the market.

10.1 Recommendations for optimizing opportunities in market demand

Recommended actions regarding the growing demand for indigenous medicinal plants as a basic consumer good in South Africa, other African countries and abroad are:

· Decision-makers at all levels of government, business and civil society need to acknowledge the magnitude and permanence of indigenous medicine and the associated indigenous plant demand.

· Promote public awareness and open discussion regarding the demand and utilization of indigenous medicine.

· Investment in supply and market development should be undertaken given an assured market for indigenous medicine products.

· There should be long-term investment in the market.

· New opportunities should be investigated as demand grows.

· Export opportunities should be investigated and developed.

· Exploit consumer reverence for indigenous plants for promoting biodiversity conservation.

Recommended actions regarding consumer preference for better quality products and packaging, and for more modem dispensing locations and retail outlets are:

· Products, packaging and retail outlets and dispensing establishments should be developed to meet consumer demand and promote consumer welfare.

· Decision-makers in government and business should be made aware that consumers are not satisfied with the standards of products and market infrastructure.

· A focused information and technology transfer system should be developed to inform market players.

Recommended actions for optimizing the lack of accepted alternatives and the demand being relatively unresponsive to price changes are:

· There should be investment in product and market development in several sectors and for several species as demand for higher priced products exist.

· A range of different standard products with a range of prices should be marketed and response monitored to identify the levels of demand, and potential opportunities for expansion.

Recommended actions regarding the adaptability of indigenous medicine are:

· Identify development opportunities for South Africa from Indian and Chinese experiences in the development of indigenous medicine markets.

· Test the market for product acceptability, in collaboration with indigenous healers, traders and consumers.

10.2 Recommendations for optimizing opportunities in market supply

Recommended actions for management and utilization of existing wild plant stocks are:

· Populations of scarce plants should be identified, and genetic material preserved appropriately using resource protection, and the establishment of gene banks conserving the diversity in genetic material from various localities.

· A programme for promoting the farming of medicinal plants in commercial and communal rangelands and forests should be developed, and should include:

- information dissemination regarding values and opportunities,
- demonstration of management and harvesting techniques in different habitats,
- provision of ongoing technical expertise to farmers in management, harvesting and
- marketing of wild plants through an extensive extension programme,
- provision of source materials, including seeds and cuttings, for enrichment planting,
- the development of economic models for estimating returns on wild plant farming.

· The traders' demand for bark products should be coordinated with logging operations in indigenous forests.

· The process of authorizing land use changes such as afforestation, water impoundment and other land clearing activities should incorporate mandatory plant salvage operations.

· Research into the sustainable harvesting of wild plants at both the population and individual plant level should be undertaken.

Recommended actions for the optimal use of existing expertise in plant cultivation, processing and marketing are:

· Establish a directory of individuals with appropriate expertise and services.

· Develop a networking system between potential suppliers of expertise and services, and the market players requiring expertise. A funding system would need to be established to facilitate the transfer of expertise to poorly resourced market players.

· Identify and access appropriate international expertise and case studies with potential for contributing to the southern African situation. Develop and publish guidelines for cultivation, processing and marketing from the lessons learnt in other countries.

· Build on the expertise of current market players, particularly the plant harvesters, who can use their existing expertise to promote more efficient supply and marketing. Training programmes with appropriate curricula would need to be established in various accessible centres.

· Build on the expertise of institutions which have already developed extensive knowledge in production, cultivation, processing and marketing.

Recommended actions for optimizing the demand for new agricultural opportunities are:

· Make market information, agronomic schedules and production costs available to farmers via various media and through training extension workers in agricultural departments.

· Reform obstructive legislation which prevents the commercial production of medicinal plants.

· Provide short courses in the propagation, cultivation, and marketing of medicinal plants for a range of farming skills and literacy levels.

Recommended action for optimizing the existing market information systems is:

· Develop a marketing information system appropriate to existing trade networks and appropriate to market participants' skills.

10.3 Recommendations for minimizing constraints in market supply

Recommended actions for addressing the negative policy environment and obstructive regulatory mechanisms which impact on the supply of plants are:

· Inform policy-makers of the negative impact of current policies and regulations on consumer welfare, industry sustainability, economic development and biodiversity.

· Inform policy-makers of both the cost savings and potential opportunities which the medicinal plant trade creates.

· Inform market players of the need to lobby for policy change and reform of regulations concerning the trade in medicinal plants.

· Inform decision-makers of the potential human and economic development opportunities associated with the indigenous medicine trade.

· Use international case studies as examples for South African policy-makers.

· Develop support for policy reform in leading political figures. There needs to be a champion for the reform of government policies in the trade of plants and plant products.

· Establish a medicinal plant strategy unit for southern Africa to develop coordinated policies between states and to generate information for informing policy at a national and international level.

Recommended actions for addressing institutional constraints regarding market supply are:

· Identify sources of funding from outside of government departments to reduce conflicts over already limited government resources.

· NGOs, government departments and market players should collaborate and develop partnerships with international funding agencies to obtain resources for new initiatives.

· Develop an advocacy programme for showing the benefits of developing the medicinal plant trade to government officials in local, regional, and national governments. This action would be closely associated with the medicinal plant strategy unit recommended above.

· Establish a team of collaborators in government departments who should be stakeholders but who may not have the resources to lead any projects.

Recommended actions for limiting the disunity in the markets due to competition are:

· Inform market players of the potential benefits of greater market unity by using international examples.

· Organizational development should be promoted within various sectors in the industry.

· Promote the lobbying ability of market players through training courses.

· Promote the development of a cross-sectoral organization which could represent the interests of all market players.

· Promote a focus on personal business development to promote widespread support from all market players.

Recommended actions for promoting business skills within the medicinal plant market are:

· Basic literacy courses should be provided for gatherers and street traders.

· Courses in business skills should be developed for a range of enterprises.

· Courses on beneficiation at various stages in the marketing process should be developed and provided to market players, especially at gatherer and trader levels.

Recommended action for promoting more efficient marketing is:

· Development and implementation of a market information system which should include [Koppell 1995]:

- selecting locations for market information systems,
- identification of participants in market information systems,
- gathering information required to design a market information system,
- design a market information system, and
- implement a market information system.

Recommended actions for promoting the quantity of plants supplied to markets are:

· Programmes for the management of wild plants and the cultivation of plants are required at a range of scales to supply urban, rural and international consumers, and for supplying commercial processing of phytomedicines.

· Investment in cultivation must be made to reduce the reliance on wild plant stocks for the medicinal plant industry.

· The most popular species are an immediate priority that should be focused on, and include the nine species which are a focus of the market survey.

· Forest species are a higher priority than other species, and cultivation should be priority due to the small areas of forest remaining in South Africa.

· Slow-growing forest species which are unlikely to be cultivated by commercial enterprises will need to be the focus of government and NGO activities.

· Grassland, savannah and thicket species should be the focus of management as relatively large stocks still remain on commercial farmland.

· Research needs to quantify and identify sustainable harvesting strategies for the wild plant stocks on commercial farms.

Recommended actions for promoting the quality of plants supplied to markets are:

· Research should identify genotypes with high potential for commercial purposes, and then conduct trials for the selection of high yielding varieties.

· High yielding variations within species need to be propagated and disseminated to farmers.

· Research should take place into the development of efficient packaging and storage of plant medicines.

· Promote the development of hygienic and convenient market places for consumers and traders.

Recommended action for research on the medicinal plant markets is:

· There should be a reorientation of research investment regarding medicinal plants, with a shift from pharmacological studies to research which identifies effective methods of sustaining market supply and improving the quality of products currently consumed.


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