Research Articles

Conservation and use of medicinal and aromatic plants in Nepal: Status and prospects

Author: Bhishma P. Subedi
Publisher: ANSAB
Language: English
Date of Publication: 2004
Number of Pages: 8
Price: Free

Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) are an important part of the Nepalese economy, with exports to India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, as well as France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. These plants have a potential for contributing to the local economy, subsistence health needs, and improved natural resource management, leading to the conservation of ecosystem and biodiversity of an area (Subedi 1997). Nepal’s ethnic diversity is also remarkable (HMGN 2002); so are the traditional medical practices. About 85% of total population inhabit in rural areas (HMGN 2002), and many of them rely on traditional medicines, mostly prepared from plants for health care. The majority of Nepal’s population, especially the poor, tribal and ethnic groups, and mountain people, relies on traditional medical practices. A large number of products for such medical practices are derived from plants. The knowledge of such medical practices has been developed and tested through generations. In many cases this knowledge is transmitted orally from generation to generation and confined to certain people (Subedi 2000).

This paper briefly presents the conservation potentials of MAPs in Nepal in relation to opportunities and challenges for the efficient, sustainable and equitable commercial uses. The strategies for handling the challenges and enhancing the opportunities of this sector are suggested. Unlike any other business, MAPs enterprise development can be linked to biodiversity conservation by creating economic incentives for local people to conserve while safeguarding their traditional livelihood strategies as well as cultural values. The information used in this paper came from the participatory action research process that encompassed a broader understanding of biodiversity including medicinal plants, local communities, and enterprises in Nepal and closer examinations of issues and their relationships in the past 4-8 years. Review of literatures, wider interactions with key stakeholders (workshops, meetings, seminars, conferences, interviews and dialogues), and observations were used. A long-term involvement and deep interest of the researcher in the subject provided the foundation to build on the understanding in this topic.