Which are the best medicinal plants in Kenya

lose-up-photo-of-a-flowering-aloe-vera-plant

Trees, herbs and plants such as Aloe Vera, Rosemary and Thyme has many medicinal benefits. Across the world, people grow them to treat common ailments such as common cold, sores or bruises. You can also farm medicinal plants them commercially to extract and sell their products. They include; In this post, we give you the best medicinal trees to grow in Kenya.

What is a medicinal Plant?

According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), A medicinal plant is any plant which, in one or more of its parts, contains substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes or which are precursors for the synthesis of useful drugs.

Medicinal plants have numerous uses in traditional and modern medicine. They can be used as food, spice or perfumes at times such as the ginder and Aloe Vera plants. Others such as cotton, flax and jute plants are used to make fibre that iis used in surgical dressings. others are used in galenical and extraction of decotions, infusions and other medicinal compounds such as sex hormones.

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Is medicinal plants farming profitable?

Growing medicinal crops and herbs is one of the most profitable agribusinesses in Kenya. According to official data, global trade for medicinal herbs is over USD 100 billion per annum. In Europe alone, the demand and sales for medicinal plants grew by over 25 % in the last five years. The leading producers and exporters are China, India, Germany and Morocco among others. India and China trades in over 7000 medicinal species each earning 2-5 billion US dollars each year.

In Kenya, Aloe Vera farmers can make over Ksh 3 million per acre. Medicinal herbs farmers growing them for export enjoy a huge domestic and international market earning millions of foreign income each year.

Which are the best medicinal plants to Grow in in Kenya ?

While you can grow over a thousand species for medicinal purposes, This article will focus on the best ten with highest demand. They are Aloe Vera, Neem, White Ginger just to mention a few.

Herbs

Medicinal herbs farming in Kenya is another lucrative agribusiness idea in Kenya. The most profitable herbs with highest demand are Rosemary, Mint and sage.

  • Rosemary; The herb is rich in antioxidants that boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It enhances memory, alertness and concentration.
  • Mint: The plant is a rich antioxidants and anti-inflammatory. It is a natural treatment for allergic symptoms, rashes and insect bites. It contains menthol which is an aromatic natural decongestant with a cooling soothing effect.
  • Chia; Chia leaves tea is a blood cleanser and can treat fevers, respiratory problems, mouth ulcers, diabetes and diarrhoea. You can also gargle it to treat sore throat. 
  • Sage: You can use it to boost cognitive functions and managing blood sugar, weight and diarrhoea. In addition, It gas antiseptic and antibacterial qualities and its used make used in promoting oral health. 

Aloe Vera

The Aloe Vera species has a huge demand in cosmetic and herbal medicine industries. It is famed to have rejuvenating, healing and soothing properties. It is a succulent tree that closely resembles a cactus. The plants do best in hot, dry climates. Though there close to 200 Aloe Species, the most popular Aloe Vera species for commercial farming are Kokoerbom Aloe, Golden Tooth, Red Aloe, Dorian Black and Yellow Teeth Aloe.

Aloe gel, that is extracted from its leaves is effective medicinal plant in treating and managing sun burns, rashes, insect bites etc.

Aloe Vera is a low maintenance crop with high returns. It will require little in mulching, fertilizer and watering.

Neem

Neem tree is the most valuable medicinal tree besides the aloe Vera. Its other common names are Mwarubaine, nimtree, indian lilac or the azadirachta indica tree. Neem Tree is a fast growing medicinal tree and can do well in many regions.

Besides its medicinal uses, you can grow it for timber, fuel, fencing, or an ornamental tree in landscaping. Its extracts are used to make neem oil which is a safe biopesticide against over 200 crop pests like locusts and aphids. Besides, its powder is a popular ingredient in several herbal medicines or the mitishamba.

Moringa

A growing Morning tree leaves
Moringa Oleifera tree is also known as the miracle tree, drumstick tree, ben oil tree or the horseradish tree

Moringa tree have various medicinal properties claims and healthy benefits hence its huge popularity. Moringa Oleifera tree is also known as the miracle tree, drumstick tree, ben oil tree or the horseradish tree. All the moringa tree parts; leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and roots are medidicinal. It has antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties.

You can grow and market various Moringa products such as capsule, powder, and extract forms such as oik. The dried pods, leaves and seeds are also available. moringa he plant is highly rich in Vitamins A and C, calcium, niacin and iron nutrients.

Most of Moringa tree species are drought resistant and thrive well in semiarid, tropical and subtropical areas. For commercial production, you can grow it on a large scale in open fields, under irrigation or greenhouses. 

White Ginger

Mondia Whitei or the white Ginger is popularly known as “Mukombero” in Kenya. Its believed that chewing its roots or drinking its tea can boost virility and stamina. Its huge demand in has led to overharvesting making the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to classify it as a priority wildlife species in the country.

Though famed as just an aphrodisiac, Mukombero has other medicinal and health benefits. It is an immune booster, and sedative that alleviates symptoms of hypertension and insomnia. It also contains essential nutrients such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K and vital minerals like Sodium, Calcium, Zinc, and Iron.

To Farm it you will need a special permit to grow it from KWS. Reports indicate its being done commercially as a cash cop in Florida and China. Besides KWA itseld runs a small factory to commercialize it. The Kakamega Natural Forest Catchment Conservation Organization, KANFCCO,  is a farmers organization in contract farming to supply 100 Metric Tons of Mondia Whitei to Germany.

Samuel S.K.

S.K is the founder and senior agribusiness development consultant at Agcenture. He can be reached at info@agcenture.com

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