The Economic Potential of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Albania

The Economic Potential of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Albania

TIRANA, February 6

The global market for herbal products is continuously increasing and it is expected to reach US$117.02 billion by 2024 and further US$ 5 trillion by 2050.

Based on the Global Herbal Medicine Market report these are the reasons why this market is growing:

  1. Rising elderly population
  2. Growing consumer awareness regarding the use of herbal medicines
  3. Slight or no side effects and low toxicity
  4. Escalating prices for pharmaceutical drugs
  5. Growing demand for natural therapies and remedies
  6. The rising popularity of herbal therapeutics compared to conventional drugs
  7. A rigorous focus on developing better extraction and purification techniques by herbal medicine manufacturers

Asia Pacific countries such as China followed by India accounts for the maximum market share due to its tradition of using the herbal system. Europe is the second largest market due to large disposable income and growing demand for natural therapies and remedies. The European market will be led by France followed by Germany.
According to the Global Herbal Medicine Market report, major players are increasingly expanding their footprint in the emerging nations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that over 80 percent of the world population meets its primary health care needs through traditional medicine.

The Global Essential Oils Market is expected to reach USD 14.28 million by 2025, from USD 7.44 million in 2017, photo credit: pixabay

The medicinal and aromatic plants are divided into four categories:

1. Based on their usage

Medicinal herbs. They have curative and healing properties and are used in making medicine
Culinary herbs. These herbs are used for their strong flavors for culinary purposes
Aromatic herbs. These herbs are used for their pleasant smell by for oils, perfumes, scents, etc.
Ornamental herbs. These herbs are used for decoration

2. Based on their active constituents

Aromatic herbs
Astringent herbs
Bitter herbs
Mucilaginous herbs
Nutritive herbs

3. Based on the plant period of life

Annuals (anise, basil, borage, calendula, chamomile, chervil, cilantro/coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, parsley, shiso, saffron, summer savoury

Biennials (caraway seeds, prime rose, baizhi, mullein, teasel, viper’s bugloss)

Perennials (alfalfa, allspice, aloe vera, angelica, acrimony, bee balm, bay leaves, catnip, chives, common thyme, Echinacea, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, mints, marjoram, mitsuba, oregano, rosemary, sorrel, salad burnet, sage, tarragon, thyme, watercress, yarrow)

4. Based on their taxonomy

Most of the medicinal and aromatic plants belong to the following families:

  • Compositae
  • Labiatae
  • Umbelliferae
  • Leguminosae
  • Roseaceae
  • Rutaceae
  • Solanaceae
  • Cruciferae
  • Liliceae
  • Caryophyllaceae
  • Boraginaceae
  • Ranunculaceae
  • Papaveraceae
  • Malvaceae
  • Cucurbitaceae
  • Verbenaceae
  • Scrophulariceae
  • Phytolaccaceae

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Albania

saffron Dumres Albania

Credit: Shafran Dumrea

MAPs in Albania occur both wild and cultivated. There are about 200 of MAPs in Albania that are exported. Bad practices in harvesting wild MAPs might lead to the extinction of MAPs such as sage or sideritis. The end markets of Albanian MAPs are Germany, the US. Turkey, Macedonia, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Greece, etc.

According to the report on assessing the MAPs in Albania by the Center for International Development, by the Harvard University, Albania is the second largest exporter of MAPs in the region after Bulgaria, lagging by about $5 million in export value. Turkey is the third largest exporter lagging by about $10 million in value behind Albania. An interesting point to note here is that Albania is a major player in Germany and United States that are the largest destinations of MAP exports from the region.

Lavender Field in Koplik, Credit: Gleni Isa Shaba

Moreover, Albania and Bulgaria have the lowest average price of MAPs compared to the other markets of the region.
Official data from the Institute of Statistics confirm that the total sage production in 2016 was 10,644 tons and in 2017 it was 12,800 tons.
There are more than 500 hectares of cultivated MAPs in Albania. The sector generates up to US$ 28 million in exports.
In the meantime, there are more than 100,000 households closely related to the cultivation or harvesting of MAPs. Sage forms about 90% of overall export of MAPs from Albania. At the same time, Sage forms about 90% of overall imports of MAPs from Albania by the US.
The Albanian Association of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (AMAP) during its second national conference highlighted the challenges that should be tackled in order to boost the sector.

According to AMAP, the goals of the industry consists of:

  1. Ongoing training for guaranteeing the MAPs quality as the only way sustainable growth of exports
  2. Farmers’ orientation to MAPs that the international markets need
  3. Access to international markets in order to increase MAPs export
  4. Participation in training in Albania or abroad related to the best practice on Maps standards, quality, and cultivation to increase the quality and yield of cultivated MAPs
  5. Access to funding or subsidy schemes for investments in technology, equipment, and participation in international fairs and events.
  6. Monitoring official policies related to MAPs

MAPs offer a huge potential for economic development in rural Albania. The demand for MAPs is expected to increase to meet both domestic and international market needs. Processes included in the sector such as collection, production, processing, storage, packaging and much more can generate growth in jobs as well as alternative economic solutions for rural Albania.

Sage is Albania’s top exported MAP, photo credit: Pixabay

MAPs in Albania are mostly cultivated in Malesi e Madhe, Shkodra, Skrapari, Elbasan, Korca, Berat, Permeti, and Durresi areas. Northern Albania is known for the cultivation of sage, while the southern region specializes in the cultivation of oregano and thyme. Farmers in Dumrea and Rodoni Kape have invested in saffron farming.
The depopulation of rural areas, especially in highlands that have huge tourism potential, caused a disparity in the exploitation of different regions for MAPs production. Potential areas lack attention and investments, while many other regions have been overexploited.

IIA

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