The fourth International Roundtable Conference on African Natural Plant Products was held in Dakar, Senegal, from August 25-27, 2004. The conference was titled, ï¿½Market Access and Competition of African Natural Plant Products.ï¿½ It was sponsored by Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP), an organization funded in part by the United States Agency for International Development.
The conference keynote address was given by His Excellency Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, with welcoming remarks from Madame Viviane Wade, First Lady of the Republic of Senegal. This is the first time a head of state has addressed the ASNAPP roundtable. Even more significantly, President Wade is the first African head of state to officially support natural products development. People from 30 nations attended the three-day conference.
Presentations dealt with varied opportunities, challenges, and obstacles facing African medicinal and aromatic plant producers. Topics included export and quality issues in the herbal tea market; production and quality control in essential oils; the emerging international market for shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii [Don] Kotschy, Sapotaceae), which is an increasingly popular ingredient in cosmetics and food products; and the challenges and strategies for introducing new African herbal medicinal preparations into local, regional, and overseas markets.
Presenters from the U.S. included Prof. James E. Simon of Rutgers University, a long-time participant in the ASNAPP process, who gave several talks including: ï¿½Medicinals: Overview of emerging crops with high commercial potential (Artemisia, Cryptolepis, Moringa, etc.)ï¿½ and ï¿½Quality Assurance & Quality Control, Regulatory & Trade Standards Issues.ï¿½ Kodzo Gbewonyo, PhD, of BioResources International Inc., gave an ï¿½Overview of Natural Products of Africa,ï¿½ while Howard Y. Shapiro, PhD, of Masterfoods USA (division of M&M; Mars Inc.) and vice-president of agriculture at Seeds of Change, spoke on ï¿½Sustainable development models for commercialization of natural products.ï¿½ Erica Renaud, Research Manager at Seeds of Change, presented on the ever-important issue of Good Agricultural Practices. (Note: please see related story in this issue titled, WHO Releases ï¿½Guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practicesï¿½ of Herbs on page 22.) Van Woods, CEO of Sylviaï¿½s Restaurant, gave a buyerï¿½s perspective on shea butter. This writer gave three presentations: ï¿½Overview of the natural products industry in the U.S. and the implications of the Bioterrorism Actï¿½; ï¿½Case studies and lessons learned from the recent introductions of [herbal] medications into the international marketplaceï¿½; and ï¿½Print media: Effective tool for new product introductions.ï¿½ African plant products are becoming increasingly important to the U.S. and world market, as well as for consumption as teas, herbal medicines, and cosmetic ingredients in Africa.
Other presentations were made by Allen Ranft of Food Surveys in South Africa on the subjects of ï¿½Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), essential tool to market accessï¿½ and ï¿½HACCP and Erogap: Overview and requirements for entering international markets.ï¿½ (Note: HACCP refers to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, a key process in food manufacturing that allows for the prevention of food safety problems.) Prof. Charles Quansah of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science Technology in Ghana discussed ï¿½The role of research in crop domestication, Product development and technology transfer.ï¿½ Martin Schneider, PhD, Purchasing Manager of the Pharma Division of Frutarom in Switzerland, presented an overview of the natural products industry in Europe with emphasis on market and regulatory challenges. Verena Ruschmeyer, of Berfin (Pty) Ltd in South Africa, provided insights into ï¿½The Herbal Tea Industry: Overview of the herbal tea market in the U.S. and Europe.ï¿½ Wayne Barratt, Director of EarthOil in Kenya, spoke on ï¿½Essential oils industry: Challenges, opportunities and the potential for economic development in Africa.ï¿½
Numerous presentations were also made by staff members of ASNAPP from various African countries. Petrus Langenhoven, Agronomist and Greenhouse specialist for ASNAPP in South Africa, spoke on the subject of ï¿½Intensive crop production, Use of hydroponics and green house systems in the commercial development of herbs and specialty vegetables.ï¿½ Masseur Nguer, ASNAPP country manager for Senegal, gave an overview of the organizationï¿½s activities in this country. Elton Jefthas, marketing coordinator and ASNAPP country manager for South Africa, gave a talk on the Wupperthal Rooibos Tea Trust, and a gentleman from Senegal provided information on the efforts to commercialize Kinkeliba tea (from Combretum micranthum G. Don., Combretaceae) in Senegal and beyond.
Recent issues of HerbalGram have covered numerous herbs and themes related to Africa including: the progress in the treatment of malaria from the roots of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, which was a feature article in issue #60; and the growing popularity of the Rooibos tea (Aspalathus linearis), which was the cover story in issue #59. Earlier issues have featured articles on devilï¿½s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), appearing in issue #50, and pygeum bark (Prunus africana), appearing in issue #43. Long-time ABC members and HerbalGram readers may recall the special issue of HerbalGram #43 on African medicinal plants, back issues of which were distributed to the conference attendees.
ASNAPP is funded largely through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The ASNAPP mission states that, ï¿½ASNAPP helps create and develop successful African businesses in the natural products sector providing income, employment and development, through environmentally and socially conscious sustainable production of high quality, healthful natural products for local, regional, and overseas markets.ï¿½
A translation of the conference opening address by President Wade is provided in a sidebar to this article. For more information about the conference, visit the ASNAPP Web site (www.asnapp.org).