‘Medicinal plants best alternative for water-intensive agricultural products'

August 14, 2019

TEHRAN – Medicinal plants, as drought-tolerant varieties, are the best alternative to replace water-intensive agricultural products to be exported, a medicinal plants expert told ISNA on Tuesday.

Annually, some 25,000 tons of medicinal plants worth around $450 million are exported from the country, Fariborz Qeibi said, noting that medicinal plants are the best replacement for water-intensive crops.

Natural lands of the country measure about 134 million hectares, of which 20 million hectares have a great potentiality for harvesting medicinal plants, he said.

However, only 200,000 hectares area of land is used for cultivation of medicinal plants, he lamented.

Over 8,000 plant species have been identified in Iran, of which 2,300 species have medical characteristics, he noted.

A total of 80 types of medicinal plants are currently cultivated in farms and about 300,000 tons of products worth two trillion rials (about $47 million) is harvested, he added.

He named seidlitzia rosmarinus, asafoetida, thymes, prunus scoparia, caraway, terebinthina. echium amoenum, hazelnut, tragacanth, daffodil and oak fruit as the main medicinal fruits in Iran.

No compost or pesticide is used in cultivating medicinal herbs in Iran, which makes the country one of the best places for cultivation of medicinal plants worldwide, he explained.

According to WHO estimates, almost 80% of population of many Asian and African countries depend on traditional medicine for primary health care. The market drivers for the global herbal medicine market are growing aging population, increasing consumer awareness, little or no side effects, and supplier innovations.

Another factor is escalating prices, tighter health budgets of modern medicinal system which has driven consumers towards the more economical and safer herbal medicine systems. The market constraints are lack of research and standardization in herbal medicines, poor legal and regulatory frame work which causes patent problems, poor manufactured herbal products etc.

SB/MG

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