|Medicinal Plants: An Expanding Role in Development (World Bank, 1996, 32 pages)|
This short concept paper is intended to serve as a preliminary exploration of the subject of medicinal plants in their role as biological resources. Various organizations among them the World Health Organization and the World Bank's own Human Development Departmentare involved with issues surrounding the efficacy, safety and general health merits of healing plants. We concern ourselves only with ways and means of achieving and/or maintaining sustainable production of plant species already accepted for healthcare purposes.
It is a reality of many countries that millions of people employ plants they consider to have healing or preventative properties. Whatever the level of proven efficacy, these plants are economic resources of our times. Yet although millions of dollars are invested in supporting food and other crops, little or nothing is spent on supporting the world's medicinal-plant resource base.
The present paper is a step toward determining if this imbalance in priorities is justified. By concentrating on the agricultural potential, we hope to assist countries and development agencies in better dealing with their natural resource, human development, and general healthcare efforts.
This review has been jointly funded by the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department and the Research Support Budget of the World Bank.
Alexander F. McCalla
Director- Agriculture and Natural Resources Department