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Abstract Detail

Economic Botany Section

Sher, Hassan [1], Barkworth, Mary [2].

Economic development and conservation through MAPS cultivation in the Swat Valley, Pakistan.

Poverty is pervasive in the Swat Valley, Pakistan. Most of the people survive by farming small landholdings. Many earn additional income by collecting and selling plant material for use in herbal medicine. This material is collected from wild populations but the people involved have little appreciation of the potential value of the plant material they collect, nor of the long term impact their collecting activities have on local plant populations, nor the unsustainability of the practice. To address these issues, a program was set up to encourage them to diversify their farming activity, focusing on plants with high market value. In a project supported by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), small scale farmers in four different villages were persuaded to use some of their land for cultivating seeds or cuttings of species that have a high market value (both locally and globally), and seemed suitable for cultivation at the four localities. The localities ranged in elevation from 800-2000m. The farmers were provided seeds or cuttings of ten species of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) and asked to monitor their germination and growth on plots 5 x 5m square. At the end of the study year, growth and yield data from the four localities were compared and economic analyses conducted to determine the profitability of each species, based on yields, market prices, and production costs. Only five of the species could be harvested during the study’s funding period: Sesamum indicum Linum usitatissimmum, Ocimum basilicum, Nigella sativa and Viola serpens. Viola serpens and O. basilicum were the most profitable. Nigella usitatissimum was the least profitable because of its low germination rate. The net income from all but Nigella was higher than would have been earned by planting the same area to cereal crops or tomatoes, the plants that the farmers usually cultivate. The other five species (Saussorea lappa, Curcuma longa, Bistorta amplexicaule, Crocus sativa, and Valeriana wallichiana) will be harvested and evaluated in 2014. In addition to demonstrating the feasibility and financial benefits of cultivating, rather than collecting, MAPs, the study identified a number of other ways in which farmers could, with some assistance from universities and government agencies, increase their agricultural income while minimizing damage to the area’s plant diversity.

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Related Links:
Report to IFPRI on project

1 - University of Swat, Center for Plant Sciences and Biodiversity, Mingora, KP, 19130, Pakistan
2 - Utah State University, Department Of Biology, 5305 OLD MAIN HILL, Logan, UT, 84322-5305, USA

Medicinal and aromatic plants
Economic analysis

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 5
Location: River Fork/Grove
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2014
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: 5004
Abstract ID:192
Candidate for Awards:None

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