Western and Central Africa
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Tuesday, 20 May. 2014
In the natural ingredient news this week there are stories about the cultivation of some South American native plants in Asia for the global market. In the following series of related blogs, we discuss, in particular, Chinese cultivation of Maca Root, an emblematic native crop of Peru, and Stevia Leaf, an herb native to Paraguay and Brazil.The 'geo-authenticity' of a medicinal plant is an important concept embedded in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory. Geo-authentic, a.k.a. 'daodi' botanicals, are those harvested from specific sites within their native habitat, handled and processed according to traditional methods of the region. Unique composition, quality, and superior therapeutic effects are attributed to geo-authentic herbs in China. And, they fetch a price premium in the TCM herb markets, placed alongside lower-priced materials of non-native origins. Some native North American medicinal plants like American Ginseng Root have been cultivated in China for decades. Yet the demand in China for Canadian- or United States of America - grown American Ginseng Root remains significantly higher than the demand for Chinese grown American Ginseng. In the big TCM herb markets I have personally seen American Ginseng labeled with Wisconsin or Ontario designations of origin at a considerably higher price than Chinese grown American Ginseng. Increasingly, over the past decade, some of the most famous native plants of South American biodiversity have been introduced into cultivation in Asian countries including China and India. At the same time, American and European farmers are experimenting with the cultivation of traditional Indian Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicinal plants. Will 'Chinese Maca' find a place in the global market comparable in quality and price to “Peruvian Maca”? Let us know what you think about provenance, designations of origin and quality, and botanical natural ingredients produced in non-native regions.
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