CURRENT STATUS OF UTILIZATION AND CONSERVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS IN AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA
The continent of Africa has an area of some 30 million square kilometres, of which about 2/3 has some sort of vegetation cover and most of this lies south of the Sahara desert. The use of medicinal plants among Africans is widespread and has been in existence for many generations. The area to be covered in this paper will be an overview of the following countries plus all those which lie to their south in Africa, from west to east: Senegal, Mali, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. This is of course, a very wide area which may further be subdivided into blocks like West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, South-East Tropical Africa, South-West Tropical Africa, South Africa and Madagascar and the Mascarenes. The area under discussion has all developing nations, with very limited resources like minerals or petroleum oil to sustain their economic development. Majority of the inhabitants of these areas, therefore, very much depend on the natural vegetation as a source of fuel, building material, food, fodder, fibre, etc. Planned utilization of natural indigenous vegetation is any part of Africa is normally the best approach towards implementation of vegetation strategies and recommendations. The African tropical rain forests for example plus its vast savanna vegetation have some of the world's best known genetic resources, particularly in the area of plant drugs. More than half of the world's drug compounds are still derived or obtained from different plants. Furthermore, it is evident that in Africa the use of both natural origin modern drugs and the herbal remedies in their crude form accounts for slightly over 75% of the population. With the ever increasing population in the continent, hence the urgent need for planned utilization and conservation of the drug plants in their natural habitats which are also our plant genetic reservoirs.
Kokwaro, J.O. (1993). CURRENT STATUS OF UTILIZATION AND CONSERVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS IN AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA. Acta Hortic. 332, 121-130