Industrial Leadership For The Preservation of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants

Illustrative Supply Chain for Medicinal
and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) Sector

(excluding trader, transport, finance, regulatory and marketing functions)

The following table illustrates some of the elements of and challenges to the sustainable supply of medicinal plants. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but a starting point for discussion.

Supply Chain Step
Range of Practices
Illustrative Issues
Growing of Plants • Commercial farms
• Small-holder farms
• Cooperative farms
• Organized wild crafting
• “Free-for-all” wild crafting
• Managed wild regeneration
• Some species difficult to domesticate
• Land tenure for growers
• Land tenure for wild crafters
• Incentive structures/punishments for sustainable management
• Food security (farm land for food vs. cash crops)
• Subsidies for food crops vs. MAPs
• Lack of technical info. on growing & sustainable management or lack of info. dissemination
• Deteriorating wild stands of plants
Plant Harvesting • Organized farm harvesting to optimize quality
• Less organized farm harvesting; quality not optimized
• Wild crafting that incorporate indigenous and/or scientific methods
• Indiscriminant wild crafting harvest methods
• Lack of information on optimal farm harvest methods
• Wrong plants harvested in wild
• Destructive harvest methods
• Exploitative relationships between harvesters and buyers
• Certification, CITES, harvest bans
Post Harvest – First Stage • Plants picked for specific buyer; post harvest procedures specified
• Plants picked and “bagged” sold to trader (end buyer not known)
• Plants may change hands in “raw” form many times before being processed
• Lack of proper voucher/specimens
• Grading and sorting procedures
• Debris cleaning
• Drying procedures
• Product adulteration
• Proper storage to maintain quality
• Time from harvest to processing
• Percentage of rejected plants
Second Stage Processing • Essential Oil Distillation
• Fermentation
• Grinding and powders
• Other
• Often done far from where plants grow
• Processor may or may not have buyer quality requirements before processing
• Who controls this stage (end manufacturer or grower/harvester community)
Finished Products Processing
And Marketing
• Medicinal/food supplement products for community use
• Medicinal/food supplement products for commercial sale
• Personal care manufacturing
• Manufacturers may not know true origin of raw materials and conditions of resource base and people
• Product impurity or adulteration due to break down in above steps
• Consumer confidence in product quality/value
• Consumer awareness of environmental and social impact factors


Photos provided by Steven Foster Group, Inc. www.stevenfoster.com

Last Updated: 7 July 2004