blank pixel spacer Kakamega integrated conservation project
Commercial Cultivation of Medicinal Plants

The uncontrolled collection and sale of large quantities of plant material from the forest leads to the destruction of many forest plants. Local communities, traditional medicinal herbalists and herbal medicine vendors popularly collect roots, bark and whole shrubs.

The project has introduced a new action plan to support sustainable utilization of medicinal plants. Farmers have been mobilized to practice on-farm cultivation of selected medicinal plants. This results in reduced pressure on forest herbal medicine while providing alternative income to the local community. Candidate medicinal plants for on-farm cultivation and commercialization were selected on the basis of their product effectiveness, toxicity, propagation potential as well as product market evaluation. Extensive agronomic studies accompanied the selection process.

The formulation of the plant products was refined by ICIPE in collaboration with the, Pharmacology Department, University of Nairobi and the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).

Ocimum kilimandscharicum

Preparation of a seed bed for Ocimum
Preparation of a seed bed for Ocimum kilimandscharicum by community members

Harvesting Ocimum
Harvesting Ocimum
Harvesting Ocimum
Harvesting of O. kilimandscharicum by community members near Kakamega Forest

The forest adjacent farmers have undertaken the commercial cultivation of Ocimum kilimandscharicum and Mondia whytei. O. kilimandscharicum is an indigenous plant that matures within 6 months and is harvested after every 3 months without replanting. M. whytei is a vine, the roots of which have for centuries been extracted from Kakamega forest and other forests in Africa for sale and consumption as a flavouring agent and as medicine. This plant is getting scarce in Kakamega forest and hence besides income generation, cultivation of the plant by the community will also contribute to its conservation. M. whytei matures after 3 years.

Processing Osimum
Processing Osimum
Ocimum Processing

  • Harvested leaves of O. kilimandscharicum is being used in the production of essential oils for the manufacture of aroma therapeutic products by ICIPE and the University of Nairobi. The product treat colds, flu, muscular aches, pains and relief of insect bites. The product is sold widely in grocery stores in Kenya under the brand name "Naturub".


Supermarket in Kenya selling Naturub
"Naturub" is on sale in the major chain of supermarkets in Kenya and in more than 62 other outlets

Mondia whytei

  • Mondia whytei root (known locally as mukombera) is being formulated into a high value powder by KEFRI. The plant is used as a natural appetizer, enhancer of cerebral and peripheral blood circulation. It is a source of nutrients such as vitamin A, D, K and E, the minerals, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and protein while its aroma makes it useful as a food-flavoring agent. A total of 14,000 M. whytei have been planted by the forest adjacent communities in their farms. The farmers also plant endangered tree species such as Prunus africanus adjacent to the vine to support it.

Mondia whytei
Mondia whytei is a slow growing vine that used to be abundant in Kakamega Forest but is now getting scarce

Harvesting Mondia whytei
The roots of Mondia whytei are harvested extensively from Kakamega Forest in a well organized trade leading to scarcity of the plant

Harvesting Mondia whytei
Mondia whytei roots are sold in towns in Kenya and in other African countries. The roots are eaten by the young and old as a flavoring and appetizing agent

More than 500 members of the community adjacent to Kakamega Forest were trained in methods of cultivating M. whytei on-farm

Community members are shown how to prepare seedbeds for M. Whytei seedlings

Mondia whytei powder
Once mature, roots from the farmer's plots of M. whytei will be purchased and used for commercial production of M. whytei in powder and other forms.

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