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Professionalizing the medicinal aromatic plants sector: the WildMAPsFit project

Date

29 Sep 2022

Sections

Agriculture & Food

The WildMAPsFit project and its partners have focussed their efforts on study the medicinal aromatic plants sector and develop tools that can help farmers and new professionals to better understand this specific field. This project has been co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, under the name WildMAPsFiT [2020-1-EL01-KA202-079069].

In a two-year period, researchers and experts from five countries created focus groups with farmers, advisors, other researchers and students to select the main topics to be addressed on the training modules.  With the information given by these focus groups, two different modules were created, one for collectors and one for processors. They are completely free and can be access through the website of the project in the Knowledge Centre section. Alongside these modules, a GIS Mapping Tool was created by the consortium to help with the identification of medicinal aromatic plants.

The project also celebrated a training session about Wild MAPs with lectures from project coordinator Dimitris Fotakis (ELGO-DIMITRA), PhD. Kemal Çelik, PhD. Harun Baytekin (both from ÇOMU), PhD. Dimitrios Argyropoulos (UCD) and PhD. Stefanos Andreadis (ELGO-DIMITRA). The recordings of the sessions can be consulted on the WildMAPsFit YouTube channel.

To further disseminate the project, five multiplier events were celebrated, one on each participant country – Greece, Ireland, Turkey, Spain and Italy.

Greece – Organised by ELGO-DIMITRA. The event took place at the Balkan Botanical Garden of Kroussia, the “ark of the Greek Flora”. The success of the event was based on the beautiful and warm day in combination with the variety of activities such as the participatory game of WildMAPsFiT and the simultaneous training in relation to the agri-food sector, the pic-nic at the waterfalls, lakes or thematic gardens, the guided tour, the leisurely walk, and the entertainment with traditional dances, organized by the Director of the Plant Breeding & Genetic Resources Institute (ELGO DIMITRA), Dr. Eleni Maloupa.  The Greek Multiplier Event was supervised by the researcher of the Forest Research Institute (ELGO DIMITRA), Dr. Dimitris Fotakis.

Ireland – Organised by University College of Dublin. Celebrated at the University Campus, the Irish multiplier event centred its contents on the importance of hemp, as its industry in Ireland is one of the oldest in Europe with a fully operational supply chain since the 1990’s, reaching a cultivation area of 574 hectares. Dimitrios Argyropoulos was the one in charge of explaining the WildMAPsFit project and the benefits and cost of on-farm drying, among other topics.

Turkey – Organised by ÇOMÜ. A two-day event with lectures by professors Harun Baytekin and Kemal Çelik, both from the Faculty of Agriculture at the Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. As the main objective was to communicate the work done at the WildMAPsFit project and the importance of Medicinal Aromatic Plants in today’s world, the topics addressed put special focus on plant identification, challenges related to regulatory status, earth-centred herbalism, herbal tradition and history, quality control and the lack of knowledge about TM/CAM (Traditional and complementary/alternative medicine).

Spain – Organised by FEUGA. The Spanish multiplier event was celebrated at the Sales Botanical Garden in Vigo (Galicia). The main topic of the event was “Medicinal aromatic plants and how to collect them”, a lecture given by expert botanical researcher, PhD. Francisco Javier Silva-Pando. The introduction and explanation of the project was given by Esther Valiño, EU & Innovation Senior Programmes Manager. 

Italy – Organised by EUROSUD. During the evening, the WildMapsFit platform, fruit of the Erasmus+ project, was presented at national level by the President of EUROSUD, Adriano Di Fronzo, who explained its genesis as a high-level European project, its evolution and a comprehensive training and community tool for local realities dealing with medicinal aromatic plants.

All these combined efforts reached directly and face-to-face more than 200 people at the multiplier events alone, facilitating and enhancing their capacities to understand and work in a sector that, according to FAO, has an estimated global production of 330 million tonnes from a total area of 77 million hectares.

According to the investigations made in the project and the information gathered from academic and governmental organizations, it has been estimated that currently more than three quarters of the world’s population uses some form of MAPs and approximately 60% of the modern pharmaceuticals and commercial drugs contain plant-derived active ingredients.

It is important to remark that medicinal aromatic plants are also important parts of ecosystems; hence the sustainable harvesting practices of wild MAPs should be used to ensure the compromise between sustainable management and commercialization to protect and sustain the biodiversity. A measure that can be only implemented if our farmers and collectors have the right information and trainings.

 

 

 

 

 

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