By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The Director General of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe, has advocated for the establishment of dedicated farms for the cultivation and processing of herbal medicinal plants in the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He made the call in an interview with journalists as part of activities to mark the 2021 African Traditional Medicine Day, in Abuja, weekend.
Adigwe, however, called on all state governors across the country to show interest in the development of the herbal medicine sector in their states.
The herbal medicine sector, he said, has the capacity to create jobs, foreign exchange and generate income for the states.
He said that, instead of developing the herbal medicine sector in their various states which will give them billions of naira annually, the governors prefer to only depend on the monthly federal allocation which is too meagre to meet the needs of the states.
Adigwe regretted that the herbal medicine sector is a multi billion dollar sector that can make every state in the country financially independent but that it is being neglected by the state governors.
The governors, Adigwe said, “need to understand the potential that is in their backyard. This is because a simple phyto medicinal project in their states will ensure that one million farmers, one million local women, one million youth are actively engaged in jobs and the products will yield output which can be exported or sold in the market once it gets NAFDAC registration.”
According to him: “We have engaged all the 36 state governors in Nigeria. I am disappointed with the level of response we have gotten. Only a handful of them recognize the potential in the herbal medicine sector.
“There is no state in Nigeria that does not have plants that have potential to generate high quality pharmaceutical products as well as to earn revenue.
“But many of these state governors are just being lazy looking for ready-made subvention from government whereas the gold that is in their backyard which if they harnessed will create jobs for their citizenry is just lying there doing nothing.”
While noting that India has tapped into its rich herbal medicinal plants and is making billions of dollars in foreign exchange for its people, Adigwe, however, said that Nigeria has more quality medicinal plants than India.
“It is on record that the amount of plants in Nigeria that have ethno-medicinal and ethno-botanical potentials run in thousands and less than 10 per cent of them have been harnessed.
“And these potentials exist in every region and every state of the federation,” he noted.
He revealed that: “We have mapped out three products per state which when they are developed, will not only generate high quality products, it will also ensure that the local people in the rural areas have jobs.
“It will also ensure that you build their capacity because they will be able to harvest and process them in a manner that is internationally acceptable.
“It will also ensure that revenue is generated for the citizenry and for the government because they will pay taxes when they register with NAFDAC and when they sell it in pharmacy shops and when they export. We are sitting in a gold mine.”
He, however, advised the herbal medicine practitioners to develop themselves by improving their knowledge and also charged them to join the traditional medicine boards in their states for proper regulation.