The annual symposium of the Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR) was held in Accra yesterday, with a call on the government to initiate policies to prevent the depletion of the country's forest resource.
The event was aimed at outlining the achievements of the centre and educating stakeholders on how medicinal plant could be used to create jobs and wealth.
It was held on the theme 'Plant medicine for wealth: Moving toward a Ghana Beyond Aid', with participants drawn from the herbal medicine industry and scientific research institutions.
The Executive Director of the CPMR Professor Augustine Ocloo said the forest reserve was disappearing at a very fast rate, hence the need to protect it to boost revenue generation of the country.
"If we don't do anything about it all the plants we have, including the medicinal plants will go", he emphasised.
He said plants could be referred to as "green gold" of the country, adding that the plant medicine market had a potential of raking in eleven billion dollars annually.
Prof. Ocloo urged government to include "Planting for Health and Wealth" as a module under the Planting for Food and Jobs saying agriculture must be all encompassing.
He appealed to the government to appoint a governing board to support the centre raise funds and state-of-the-art equipments, lamenting that the lack of resources had limited their productions.
He further appealed to the Food and Drugs Authority to extend the manufacturing period for herbal medicines in order to include the medicines in the National Health Insurance Scheme to promote the use of herbal products.
The Executive Director advised farmers to cultivate herbal medicines and practice mixed farming to prevent the country from losing its forest reserve.
The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, speaking on behalf of the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said, the herbal industry could be used to drive the government's agenda of a Ghana Beyond Aid due to its potential.
He said statistics indicated that there was a high attention paid to plant medicine in Africa, adding that there was the potential for the country to create jobs and improve export through the sector, "therefore it should not be at the back bench".
He called on the centre to partner with key stakeholders and the government to mitigate the risks associated with the herbal industry.
Professor Anthony Afolayan, a lecturer at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa, in his remarks said, there was the need to harness the potential of herbal medicine in order to improve socio-economic development.
Prof. Afolayan said Ghana was on the right path to making wealth from plant medicine with the establishment of the centre and called for support for the centre to meet international standards.
The chairman at the symposium Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II Okyehene in a speech read on his behalf said the government's Planting for Food and Jobs was meant to encourage the nation to cultivate crops to create jobs and wealth for its people.
"To become financially sustainable and move beyond aid requires the principal thrust of national development policy to ensure that, science and technology and innovation drives all sectors of the economy", he indicated.
The centre he said had a great responsibility in leading the way in the proper use of diverse medicinal plants.
Osagyefo Amoatia II commended the centre for taking the lead to place science and technology at the heart of herbal medicine in the country, adding that other sectors must emulate the example.