Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Ms. Nedžada KOSOVIĊ, & Ms. Ljiljana DUNJIĊ
“Djemal Bijediċ” University Mostar, SARAJEVO
Bosnia Herzegovina

(No summary in French & Russian)


In geographic terms Herzegovina often is associated with mild climate, abundance of sun and warmth and the clean, not polluted, green-blue coloured, rich in trout Neretva river. Mostar, the cultural and economic centre, with its flowering gardens and agricultural products such as tobacco, early vegetables, cherries, figs and grapes.

Thanks to the heterogeneous climate and relief, the area of Herzegovina has a long and rich tradition in collecting of different types of growing wild medicinal and aromatic plants and spices, forest fruits and mushrooms.

Herzegovina-Neretva Canton is one of ten Cantons of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It consists of nine municipalities, from Prozor in the north to Neum in the south. They surrounding the river Neretva from its spring (Konjic municipality) to the river basin (MetkoviŶ, municipality in Republica Croatia bordering the Canton). The total surface of the canton is about 4 800 km2 with a total population of about 274 000 inhabitants before the war.

Present cultural, educational, economic centre is Mostar at 65 m altitude and about 60 km distance from Adriatic Sea. It has sub-Mediterranean climate, with average annual air temperature of 15°C, with average maximum temperature of 26°C in August and average lowest temperature of 5°C in January, with an annual rainfall of 1414 mm and annual number of sun hours of 2136, making this town one of the sunniest in B&H.

The area is characterised by the transition from moderate-continental climate in the north to Mediterranean climate in the south.

The Canton has very good traffic infrastructure. The Canton is connected by roads and railway with others parts of B&H as well as with others states. The seaport PloŶe in Republica Croatia offers the possibility of overseas transport.

Local population, displaced persons and refugees are the inhabitants of the Canton. Destruction and devastation of productive companies, general lack of financial resources and the political environment have caused a very low employment rate. The process of returning to normal is still slow. People coming back to the villages and towns face a whole range of problems, but employment is the biggest one. A way to earn money is to deal with agriculture and collection of medicinal and aromatic plants and other NWFP.

The Situation of Collection, Purchase and Processing of Medicinal Plants Before the War

Tradition of collection of different types of growing wild medicinal, aromatic plants and spices, as well as forest fruits is based on use of medicinal plants for centuries in popular medicine and on specific climate, soil and others factors. For these reasons the former Yugoslavia defined this area as an area rich in medicinal plants from the point of view of the number of types and of the available quantity.

It is estimated that in some habitats in Herzegovina there are 1300 species of plants with some medicinal characteristics. Some of them are of unique quality in the world, such as sage (Salvia officinalis), immortelle (Helichrysum italicum), heath (Saturea montana), juniper tree (Juniperus communis), autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale), St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), hemp stalk (Vitex agnus castus), etc.

Data do not exist on the distribution of species of the plants or on collected quantities. In former Yugoslavia some data were available for Dubrovnik area and it was estimated that some 5 700 hectare are covered by Salvia officinalis, by rosemary 50 hectares and Helicrysum italicum 730 hectares.

Rural and suburban households deal with plant collection as main or additional activity.

Collective farms and Cooperatives making the part of APRO “Herzegovina” (former Hepok) with main office in Mostar dealt with purchase. Collective farms were placed in all big cities of the Canton having purchase stations in the villages. The purchase included some 30 species of different plants, forest fruits and mushrooms such as sage, immortelle, black and red juniper, Satureja montana, black and white linden, St. John's wort, gentian, autumn crocus, bilberry. Some of them were for the export, especially sage. To domestic customers the plants were delivered without final processing, having impact on the quality and price.

In addition to this established traditional purchase practice there was some conflict of interest among other organisations and private entrepreneurs from B&H and from others republics of former Yugoslavia. At the time of collection and purchase of the plants they sent people with money paying directly for the plants. This had an impact on the changing rate of prices, quality and supply.

At the same time the increasing rate of consumption caused the unskilled, irresponsible and unorganised collection of medicinal plants. So it is possible to claim that in some especially accessible regions the natural resources were exhausted and some were degraded. Some highly esteemed species are now on the brink of extinction. People dealing with collection of medicinal plants were guided exclusively by gains of profit, and they did not take into consideration the natural capabilities. This has lead to the danger of extinction of some species such as gentian and immortelle. Regarding collection of forest fruits we find a similar situation (juniper, Rosa canina) and mushrooms. Mushrooms are pulled out from the ground without taking care of mycelium, which are necessary for reproduction the next year.

The Purchase

On the basis of the data that are available it is calculated that the purchase of medicinal plants, forest fruits and mushrooms in B&H before the war was 5 to 7 thousand tons, and the value of the export was about 15 millions US$.

Several years before the war organised purchase through holding company APRO “Herzegovina” in the area of Herzegovina the purchase was from 600 tons to 1 200 tons. Purchase through other organisation 250–400 tons, and 1000 tons through different sellers for a total of about 2 500 tons. Of these purchases the share of sage was about 50–60%. The estimation was that the natural potential of Herzegovina was 6000 tons of different plants and fruits.

Before the war there was no processing capacity for the medicinal plants in the Canton. In 1983 the organisation HEPOK DISTILLERY, which was the part of APRO holding and producer of a wine distillate and brandy, developed a procedure for the production of essential oil and extracts (sage, immortelle, laurel) and offered products to the market. A small production was maintained until the war when a part of the production equipment was damaged causing the end of production.

In the cooperation with Institute for the Agricultural Research from Mostar and with Institute for medicinal plants from Belgrade the distillery invested significant funds in three years research to investigate the possibility of having plantations growing of some medicinal and aromatic plants. The purpose of this investigation was to insure that at least 50% of the raw material necessary for the future production could be provided. Good results of the investigation as well as the market research caused the Distillery to undertake an investment program to build the capacity for processing and finishing the medicinal plants into the products such as tea, cosmetics and essential oils. War caused closing of the project.

Present Situation in Purchase, Processing and Finalisation of the Medicinal Plants

After the war was finished and the Dayton peace agreement was signed, with the help of the International community and with own efforts some restoration of the work of Collective farms in the Canton has occurred in the cities Mostar, Konjic, Jablanica, Stolac, Ŷapljina, Prozor, etc. The collection and purchase has been reactivated mainly because minimum investments were necessary for the activity. But a problem occurs when buyers do not have “cash” money for the purchase and the competition starts again among buyers, and cooperatives remain without income.

In 1994 in Mostar 70 tons of sage were purchased, but in 1995 and 1996 the purchase stopped because some disorders in export occurred. Also there is the problem in collection because some areas are still covered with mines.

The population started to return to places of origin and the only possibility to earn income is to work in the field of agriculture and to collect medicinal plants.

“BOSNIA FLORA” Konjic, whose owners have twenty years experience in this field, is the biggest private enterprise in the Canton dealing with purchase and processing of forest fruits and mushrooms, medicinal plants and snails. The firm invested some financial resources in the education of the people working in the field with collectors and advising them on ways and time of gathering, drying, and storing of the plants. The area is at 200 to 2000 m height above sea level.

To illustrate we will display the data on the purchase of the plants in the municipality of Konjic:


Bilberry freshVaccinium myrtillus  35
Bilberry driedVaccinium myrtillus    1
Blackberry freshRubus Fruticosus  10
Raspberry freshRubus ideaus  10
Linden FlowerTilia flos    5
Dog rose freshRosa canina  10
Dog rose driedRosa canina    2
Boletus mushroomBoletus sp.  25
Yellow chanterelleChanterelle    5
JuniperJuniperus communis  25
ChestnutAesculus hippocastanum150

The development of the collection and purchase of the medicinal plants will have to make this activity profitable and sustainable from the point of view of preservation of the different species.

In May 2000, on suggestion of GTZ/AGRO PROJECT, Government Organization from Germany, with main office in Sarajevo, the association of the collectors, buyers, processors and scientific institutions dealing with medicinal plants on level of Federation B&H was established. This association will ask all the responsible authorities dealing with the process of issuing the permission of annual plans for the forest management, that the rational use of medicinal plants and other NWFP be assured.

Collective farms and specialised companies dealing with use and purchase of medicinal plants, who are members of the associations, are obliged to produce the guidelines on way, time and conditions of collecting and gathering the plants aimed to improve and protect the medicinal plants. Special emphasis should be given to the species whose existence is already endangered such as gentian or immortelle.

The Association will ask the State, Canton and the municipalities to increase control and to take some measures against those not observing the existing regulations in this field.

The Association has the objective to replace the traditional way of work and disorganisation with a new form of organisation that will contribute to the fulfilling of three basic conditions for a successful launch of value added NWFP on the regional and international markets. These conditions are appropriate quality, price and delivery time in suitable packaging. In addition, the Association will work on development of opportunities for cultivation and forestry, ensuring to the processors sustainable supplies of standardised quality raw material.

The resources from the banks will be required to give incentives to the development of this export-oriented activity under favourable conditions with low interest rate and long grace period.

The Association on the Canton level should be established to ensure smooth implementation.


This paper is intended to raise the attention of the participants of the Seminar on the possibilities of regional collaboration in this field. Especially because our country is under reconstruction after the war and the international community has invested substantial effort in the reconstruction.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page