27 February 2013

Nigeria: 'Only 25 Percent of Nigeria's Medicinal Plants Being Utilised'

Abuja — Only 25 per cent of Nigeria's 8,000 medicinal plants are being utilised, says Mrs Zainab Shariff, the Managing Director, Nigeria Medicinal Plants Development Company (NMPDC).

Shariff made this known in an interview Abuja on Sunday.

She said that the company had identified six plants which had more value than what they were currently being used for.

They are 'moringa oleifera' popularly called 'zogale', 'Hibiscus Sabdariffa' known as 'zobo' and 'Zingiber officinale or ginger, 'Telfairia occidentalis or fluted pumpkin, 'azadirate indica' or bitter leaf and 'Ocimum Grattissimum, popularly known as scent leaf.

"These plants are viable and available in the country. They are sustainable and available all year round. This means you can always get them."

"Pumpkin for instance, if more people will cultivate it beyond being just vegetable, it will generate revenue through export.

"It cures anemia, helps sickle cell patients as it boosts blood count and also an immune support plant because of its high content of anti-oxidant properties.

"So also the anti-oxidant properties in bitter leaf, which researchers say has anti-cancer properties."

Shariff said the company had taken the challenge to increase the production of the plants for processing into different products.

She said the company had a 10-hectare farmland in Kano State, where it carried out dry season farming and another 18-hectare farmland in Katsina, where it embarked on wet season farming.

She said some plants, which were not indigenous, had been imported and cultivated to further add to those identified.

"We domesticated a plant from China called 'Artemisia', which had been cultivated on our soil and it grows with special nurture."

"To get the content of artemisinin, artemisia gives you artemisinin and for it to give you artemisinin, you need to process it through an extraction technology."

According to her, Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACTs) is derived from artemisia plants, which is a drug composite that possesses the most rapid action of all current drugs against malaria. (NAN)

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