Economy, Business And Markets

Blooming Opportunities in Medicinal Herbs

Blooming Opportunities in Medicinal HerbsBlooming Opportunities in Medicinal Herbs

The market for medicinal herbs, a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the world, remains largely untapped in Iran despite availability of a wide range of herbal plants.

The last three decades have seen substantial growth in herbal and herbal product market across the world. The global market for medicinal herbs is estimated at $100 billion and is predicted to reach $500 billion in 2050, according to a report by IRNA.

Medicinal and aromatic plants are offered in a wide variety of products, from raw materials to processed and packaged products like pharmaceuticals, herbal remedies, teas, cosmetics, sweets, dietary supplements, varnishes and insecticides.

Traditional medicine is achieving growing credibility in many parts of the world. A report by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization states that at present, 80 percent of the population in developing countries rely largely on plant-based drugs for their healthcare needs. The World Health Organization has estimated that in the coming decades a similar percentage of the world population may rely on plant-based medicines.

As a result of the expanding interest in plants for use in medicines and cosmetic products, new opportunities have emerged for production and export of such plants.

Iran has a suitable and diverse climate for plant cultivation and is currently home to about 7,500-8,000 plant species. Research has shown that out of the total plant species cultivated in Iran, about 2,100 herbal and aromatic plants are suitable for use in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and dyeing industries.

A study conducted in 2011 put Iran’s share of the global herbal medicine market at about $60 million, an insignificant figure considering that some medicinal herbs are grown exclusively in Iran, according to the head of the Agricultural Ministry’s Institute for Research, Registration and Certification of Seeds and Saplings, Mohammad Hassan Osareh.

According to Osareh, many herbal plants used worldwide for medicinal purpose are naturally available in Iran. He believes the country could generate huge revenues by cultivating these plants in controlled environments and extracting the useful components for export.

But he pointed out that the sector currently suffers from lack of coordination between various organizations involved in the field of pharmacy and traditional medicines.

“Achieving a suitable position in the global trade of medicinal plants calls for the establishment of an independent body to supervise the various stages of production, distribution, commercialization and marketing of medicinal herbs,” he said.

The expert observed that in addition to creating vast employment opportunities, investing in cultivation and development of medicinal herbs also generate a high value-added source of revenue for the country.