The Federal Ministry of Health has said that Moringa found in abundance in the North Western part of the country has the potential of generating about 6 billion dollars for the country annually if fully developed.
The Head of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the Ministry, Pharmacist Zainab Ujjudud Sherrif disclosed this while Speaking at an investigative hearing on researches into Covid-19 activities by the House Committee on Covid-19.
Sheriff said the country has great potentials for job creation and revenue generation in the herbal and traditional medicine, adding that the agency has identified six plants with huge potentials in the ix geopolitical zones.
According to her, Nigeria has over 8000 species of medicinal plants with huge potentials, pointing out that what need to be done is to create job for the farmers to farm these plants for extractions.She said “With over 8000 species of plants in the country, it is a very good area for us to generate revenue and foreign exchange.
In every zone of this country, we have identified potential plants peculiar to them and have strong commercial viability, agronomical consideration as well as availability and sustainability.
“We have worked on six different plants from these zones. From the North West is Moringa Oleifera which has the potential of generate six billion dollars annually. In the North East, we have Herbiscus Sabdariffa popularly known as Zobo.
“In the South South, we identified Vernonia Amygdaljna popularly called bitter leaf not only for its potential as a medicinal plant, bug because many people want it that way. So, there is a huge market for it.
In the South East, there is a huge potential for ugwu. In the North Central, we have Ginger and in the South South, we have what the Yorubas called Efi or Ncha in Igbo.
“So, if we look at these plants and harness them and develop the value chain, they are going to give you multiple products such as natural products and products for pharmaceutical raw materials that an take us to the next level of getting pharmaceutical drugs and more importantly, products for body care.
“We should look at these value chain and the Ministry is working on that, trying to see how it can be regulated. We are currently working on the traditional medicine regulatory bill which we hope will be passed into law very soon by the National Assembly so that we can have some regulations.
“Nigeria is blessed and these practitioners have products. They may not be scientific in the laboratory, but they are scientific in what God has given to them. We just need to look at them so that they will not die with their potentials in these plants.”
Commenting on Artemesia Annua, Pharmacist Sherrif said “the Artemisua Annual has already been commercialised in Nigeria. We produced the plant in many states of the Federation. All that we need to at this point in time is to create job for our farmers to cultivate this plant for us to carry out extraction for possible raw materials for anti malaria. “So, there is job opportunity for there for many farmers especially in states where we have the potentials to grow the plant. The plant is so good that even he content is better than the one from China. This study was done for two years. So, it is potential, market out there. It can be both for Internal and external use.
“You don’t jump into research in the laboratory. It is what you see and know that you take in there. The few weeks of Covid-19 has given us the opportunity to see the potentials of traditional medicine and what they are. We have almost 50 of them that has presented their product and we are looking into it because of the potentials for possible commercialization.
“There is a lot of market out there and Nigeria is being invited because of these medicinal plants and their potentials for immune boosting in this Covid-19 era. We have been invited to world meetings to look at plants with potentials. In the United Arab Emirate, there is a strong investor who has called us and very soon, he will submit proposal for their area of investment.”
Contributing, the Director General of the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said Nigeria has been importing about 70 percent of its medicine, adding that “India has said they will not give us drugs anymore. We just need to develop our local content and CBN is doing alot on that already.”
Prof. Adeyeye said when she assumed duty at the agency about two years ago, the agency was in a mess and could not meet its mandate, saying “I met a debt of N3.2 billion most of which were taxes and VAT which were not returned to the government.
“In one year, we paid back N3.01billion because I knew where the money was going to and we had to block it. We are not there yet though because there are still a few areas people want to compromise.”