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close this bookMedicinal Plants: An Expanding Role in Development (World Bank, 1996, 32 pages)
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentAbstract
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentExecutive summary
Open this folder and view contents1. Introduction
Open this folder and view contents2. The resource base
Open this folder and view contents3. Medicinal plants in world bank projects
Open this folder and view contents4. Toward a strategy
View the documentAppendix 1
View the documentBibliography
View the documentDistributors of World Bank publications
View the documentRecent world bank technical papers


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 Department—are 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