There is a large supply of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAP) in developing and emerging countries. They are on the one hand usually collected wild in remote regions, biosphere reserves, and mountainous regions. On the other hand, some species can be cultivated by small farmers. MAPs are an important source of income for the population in rural regions – especially for women, who mostly work as collectors. The Import Promotion Desk (IPD), an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), works with many companies that want to bring their herbs and spices to the European market. The IPD supports them in this endeavour, draws their attention to the importance of organic certification and accompanies them to international trade fairs where they can present their portfolio. MAP producers from Egypt, Morocco, and Ukraine will be represented at BIOFACH 2024 taking place in Nuremberg from 13 to 16 February.

©EG Al Rehab

Large MAP offers from Ukraine

Ukraine is traditionally a country rich in plants with additional health benefits: some are collected wild in the forests, others are cultivated on larger fields. Many companies, such as “Dobrotrav” from Lubny in the Poltava region and “Phytopharm-Trade” from Ivano-Frankivsk, offer both wild-collected and cultivated MAPs. Elderberries and elderflowers as well as linden flower for flavouring are particularly popular. There is also great interest in raspberry leaves. The two companies also offer nettle, marshmallow, St John’s wort, dandelion, rosehip, hawthorn, horse chestnut, arnica, and much more. The company “Mol’Far Eco”, also in the IPD programme, specialises in the collection of willowherb leaves. These are fermented and oxidised and can either be used pure as “Coptic tea” or as an ingredient for herbal tea blends. This ingredient is an interesting alternative to black tea as it does not contain any teain.

There is a wide range of organic products on offer. And despite the war, companies are continuing to produce and supply their European trading partners with high-quality products. However, there are certain challenges for the MAPs companies, as they can often only be obtained from wild collection. In many areas, collection in the forests is no longer safe – especially due to landmines. This reduces the quantities and income for Ukrainian companies. In this difficult situation, the flow of capital from reliable buyers is essential for Ukrainian companies in order to grow new crops, finance organic certification and therefore maintain their presence on the European market.

©EG Al Rehab

Endemic species from North Africa

Egypt has been known for centuries as a hub for herbs and spices. There are also many endemic species in North Africa which are collected or cultivated in the wild. After drying and processing, the products reach the European market quickly due to the short transport routes. Hibiscus, camomile, and marigold flowers are particularly popular. The demand for hibiscus is constantly increasing. The companies “Novaroma” from Beni Suef and “Alrehab Herbs” from the Fayuum region offer these plants in organic quality. “Novaroma” also has moringa in its range. Moringa leaves have a very high nutrient density even after drying. The raw products mostly come from small Egyptian cooperatives and farms, from which the companies in the IPD programme then buy, process, and commercialise the ingredients. The company “Bio Oasis” has even set up its own system for small farmers and is one of the few Fairtrade-certified companies in Egypt. It also has its own cultivation areas. Its portfolio includes black cumin, basil, lemongrass and hibiscus.

Many of the raw materials processed by the Moroccan company “Derrij et fils” come from wild collection. Many endemic plants that have been used as medicinal plants for centuries grow in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. “Derrij et fils” therefore offers special species such as saponaria and sarsaparilla roots, pink laurel, centaury, and hawthorn flowers. The company also processes rosemary and thyme leaves, camomile blossoms, pomegranate peel and blossoms, and much more.

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