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Title: Cultivation, Market and Uses of Nepal’s Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: Reflections on Local and National Policy

Joel T. Heinen

Florida International University, USA

Biography

Joel T. Heinen received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1992 and has been on the faculty of Florida International University’s Department of Environmental Studies, now the Department of Earth and Environment, since 1993.  He served as an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal from 1984 to 1988 and Fulbright Senior Scholar in Kyrgyzstan in the 1999-2000 academic year.  His main research focus is in biodiversity conservation policy studies in developing countries of Asia and Latin America and he has published well over 100 academic to date, I addition to numerous other works including reports, book reviews, chapters, abstracts, etc.  He lives and works in Miami, FL USA.

Abstract

Nepal is a least-developed land-locked country with spectacular scenery and very high species diversity of many taxonomic groups.  It is a center of adaptive radiation for many animal and plant families.  The country boasts over 2,500 species of non-timber forest products of all kinds (NTFPs) and at least 160 species of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPS) that are used in trade. Traditionally, Nepal has supplied raw, wild materials for the large Ayurvedic industry (traditional South Asian plant-based medicines) based in India.  Since Ayurvedic products are also widely used in Nepal, and some species can be cultivated, much more revenue could be generated in-country if at least some popular species were cultivated at large scales and if at least some final products were manufactured locally. 

 

For these reasons, the Government of Nepal proposed a national NTFP policy in the early 2000’s and has been implementing the policy since that time with a goal of improving rural livelihoods in impoverished districts of the Himalayas.  One main objective is to study up to 30 species of MAPs that show some promise for cultivation on small farm plots, and thus improving local livelihoods in rural areas.  Another objective is to develop national industries, where feasible, to produce Ayurvedic medicines directly as opposed to exporting raw materials to India, only to import value-added medicinal products from India.  Here we assess Nepal’s NTFP Policy and consider its strengths and weaknesses as currently implemented.  We conclude that it shows a great deal of promise and potential.  It is clearly a step forward in meeting millennial development goals and in meeting some of the criteria for the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It has also attracted a good deal of interest and funding from several international and national-level non-governmental organizations (NGOs) due to its potential.  However, our review shows that that some concerns remain and we end with several recommendations to improve this sector.