Case Studies on the Transformation of Traditional Knowledge into International Commodities - The Link Between Traditional Medicines in India and European Distribution


Anthony Booker, Deborah Johnston, Michael Heinrich




 Much work has been carried out examining the economic significance of food crops in developing countries but until now little research has been carried out regarding the production of medicinal plants and the effect this has on the local economy and subsequently the health and well- being of producers at the early to mid- stages of the supply chain.

Project details

Compared with food crops, medicinal plants can be more viable economically, however the European quality requirements for medicinal plants, plant extracts and herbal medicinal products set a much higher entry bar than for foodstuffs requiring more sophisticated inputs along the value chain.

This study aims to investigate medicinal plant value chains and interpret the impact different value chains have on the livelihoods of producers in developing countries and on the health of European consumers.

The methods for this survey a mixed and include surveys, semi-structured interviews, non-participant observations, ad analytical investigations in the laboratory.

Results indicate that the livelihoods of producers in India are affected by the introduction of vertically integrated value chains.

This can have both positive and sometimes negative outcomes depending upon the precise nature of the individual contract.

The quality of products within these chains is highly variable but vertically integrated chains allow for better traceability and higher standards of quality.