The growing global demand for medicinal and aromatic plants could help drive Nepal’s green economy, particularly in poor communities where many types of such plants are harvested, says a new study released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Government of Nepal.
More than 100 types of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are harvested in Nepal and traded in international markets. They were exported at a value of $9.8 million in 2009, up from $3 million in 2008, according to figures cited by UNEP.
“By harvesting these plants sustainably, and improving their value-added activity so collectors receive a fair share of the profits, the trade could contribute to social equity, environmental conservation and economic prosperity,” said UNEP Programme Officer Asad Naqvi.
Mr. Naqvi oversaw the report, “BioTrade: Harnessing the potential for transitioning to a green economy - The Case of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Nepal,” which states that despite the opportunities for sustainable trade in MAPs inside the country, most of the value-added activity and quality control mechanisms are done outside.
In addition, trade is further hampered by limited access to electricity, transportation and other gaps in infrastructure.
Among the recommendations in the report is a regularly updated inventory system that provides information on available stock and how much can be sustainably harvested.
Creation of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication were among the themes endorsed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) last June.
As part of turning those themes into action, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world leaders earlier this month to implement policies that protect the environment, stressing that this will also benefit their economic growth and prosperity.