Traceability of twenty medicinal plants in the markets of northern Peru
Evans, S, Téllez, C & Vega, C 2014, 'Traceability of twenty medicinal plants in the markets of northern Peru', in J Ghaemghami, R Alarcón Gallegos & H Navarrete (eds.) ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1030: International Symposium on Medicinal Plants and Natural Products, International Society for Horticultural Science, Korbeek-Lo, Belgium. ISBN: 9789462610163
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The social, cultural and economic value of medicinal plants is prominent in many parts of South America, providing important economic and health benefits. However, market pressures and an absence of appropriate conservation policies are putting species at risk. These problems are exacerbated by an informal market system with poor remuneration for plant collectors which makes for a fragile economy. This study, located in the coastal cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo in northern Peru, focuses on market vendors. The objective of the study is to establish market vendors’ knowledge about the traceability, conservation status and botanical identification of twenty (20) medicinal plants. A selection of 20 native medicinal plants was made including both plants that are endangered and those that are in high demand. Two markets were visited in each city and samples of each available plant were purchased. Vendors were asked about the origin of the plants, and their understanding of the availability of supply. Plants were botanically identified and the results checked with the vendor’s information.
Most plants came from either the department in which the market was located, or an adjacent department and a number of plants are available in very small amounts. Of the sources known to vendors, they claim specific regional knowledge for half of the plants. The rest are known by more general information. Plant identification problems occur largely at a species rather than a genus level, either through lack of knowledge by vendors, or because of the plant product itself, e.g. only the root being sold. This research indicates that detailed information about the collection of medicinal plants in northern Peru is unavailable by the time the plants reach these markets, although they were sourced relatively locally and supplies of some plants are scarce. Addressing the issues raised here will benefit the region by protecting a resource which is an important part of healthcare and also important to the region economically.