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Growing Medicinal Herbs on a 14 km Road Side in Bangladesh

ACME Laboratories Limited – a company for pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh – needs more supply of “Basak leaves”, a medicinal plant.

Growing Medicinal Herbs on a 14 km Road Side in Bangladesh

Smallholder farmers can supply these leaves, however, replacing rice to grow Basak is less profitable. The farmers then realized that using fallow land would be more suitable for growing Basak, as it is land which would otherwise not be used at all. As such, a 14km road side seemed to be the best alternative.

High demand for Basak leaves supply

ACME Laboratories Limited is a company for manufacturing top quality pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh. One of their product is manufactured herbal medicines using “Basak” or malabar nut. Basak is a medicinal plant and the leaves extract is used for the herbal medicines. ACME Laboratories need 90 ton/year supply of basak leaves. In order to fulfill the supply of the main ingredient for the herbal medicine, ACME Lab has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the local SPA. Today, through the SPA, 150 smallholder farmers supply Basak leaves to ACME Laboratories. Last year, the producer groups were only able to supply 70 ton basak leaves to ACME, leaving room to engage others smallholder farmers to improve the supply of basak leaves.

Using road sides to plant Basak

The local Service Provider Association (SPA), which is mandated to work with the producer group, suggested the smallholders to supply leaves to the private sector as this would be a source for additional income for the smallholders. The SPA planned to plant approximately 18,000 medicinal saplings in northern Bangladesh. However, replacing rice as main crop to grow Basak in a crop land will bring less profit to the farmers. They then realized that using raised and fallow land would be more suitable and profitable for growing Basak. As such, 14 Kilometre-long road side seemed to be the best alternative for this.

Lobby to the local government

The Union Parishad (local government unit) is the institutions who allocates and maintains these road-side land. Thus the SPA, together with the Bangladeshi Department of Agricultural Extension and other actors, made regular visits to the relevant authorities to get permission for growing the medicine plants on the road-sides. Considering the positive environmental impact, demand and economic benefits to the producer group, the Union Parishad allocated the requested land for Basak plantation for 15 years. As a result, smallholder farmers planted 18,000 saplings in August and September 2017. The SPA further plans to expand this plantation area through similar lobby and advocacy efforts.

About Civic Engagement Alliance

Through Civic Engagement Alliance (CEA), ICCO Cooperation promotes the concept of establishing Public Private Initiative (PPI) for lobby and advocacy. In a PPI, multiple stakeholders collaborate to address issues faced by small producer groups in markets. CEA program provides lobby and advocacy training to build capacity of different market actors within a PPI such as representatives from producer groups and the SPA to understand the concept of public private initiatives. This training developed their negotiation skills and enabled them to mobilize support from local government authorities. With success.