Cooperation to reach the market of wild medicinal and aromatic plants
In some territories, the productions are small and only have exit if they combine the production with the dissemination and the direct sale of product, being essential a network of collaboration between producers, to exchange information, help the commercialisation and act as a union. Forestry actors in Catalonia (Spain) consider necessary to create transformation centers, under the cooperative formula, to process wild plants, retain added value and supply products to customers with certain periodicity and guarantee (ValuePAM project).
The production of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) has interesting growth prospects, but the atomization of farms hinders their business development, having to bet on a cooperative model, that facilitates the transformation and commercialisation. This is an issue that affecting both agricultural production and wild exploitation. This factsheet presents the needs of the stakeholders and some success stories.
In France, the Association Française des Professionnels de la Cueillette de plantes sauvages (AFC) represents MAPs collectors, participating in the construction of supply chains and identifying good practices to favor sustainable commercial collection and a responsible profession. In Auvergne, the SICARAPPAM cooperative, with 30 years of experience, brings together 45 MAPs' collectors, collecting and transforming more than 600 references of wild plants (fresh, dried and frozen) certified organic for herbalism, liquor store , pharmacy, phytotherapy, cosmetics, etc. In Catalonia (Spain), the Parc de les Olors sums up, organizes, manages and collaboratively markets the production of small producers.
The consolidation of the activity of small producers must be based above all on greater mutualisation, the representativeness of all collectors and training more adapted to the plural nature of the profession and the reality of the market, so that producers can be competitive with a quality product. Thus, collaboration and innovation are crucial and we must bet on technification, so that the activity is profitable and sustainable. It is also necessary to have a good marketing strategy and know the legal requirements well, to reach the market. Finally, setting a fair price will allow a better valuation of these products.
Impacts and weaknesses
For the use of MAPs to be profitable, you have to know how to produce and market, so you have to help the collectors to sell, since it is far from their mentality. But it is also necessary that expectations are not generated when there are none: obtain more than the market can assume or sell to markets that do not value the product. And the final consumer does not always know the advantages of the species of a territory. Thus, in order to consolidate future consumption, it is essential to collect, defend and disseminate the traditional uses and conservation aspects of MAPs.
According to the VALUEPAM project, it will be important to increase the actors' knowledge about the resource, its importance and good collection practices, encourage regional and cross-border cooperation for wild exploitation, deepen work on its adaptability to the market, disclose its differentiated value and encourage their incorporation into final products. In short, reinforce its potential as a complementary element for the sustainable development of rural territories.