During the 2nd meeting of the Grundtvig project – Plant Wild, in Braga (Portugal), experts from Lithuania, Portugal, Spain and Turkey discussed about the current situation of the research, technology transfer and training in wild harvesting of aromatic and medicinal plants.
They have stated that there exist strong scientific knowledge, research in some commercial medicinal plants and prepared human resources for doing training, helped by old traditions and scientifically based methodology for sustainable harvesting of wild MAPs.
Economic value and marketing opportunities are increasing as MAPs consumption is growing, and governmental and civil organisations or societies support projects of MAPs related to rural development.
Nevertheless, there is a lack of people’s knowledge on species and use of these species.
There are conservation studies, but no economic ones on the harvesting activity. Moreover, there is few training on wild harvesting techniques; even transfer of novel technologies for sustainable harvesting of wild plants is slow. And MAPs training financed by EU does not fit the sector needs.
So, initiating local projects for adult training of wild plants harvesting could be a good opportunity, not only for professional but also for domestic harvesters, to teach them sustainable techniques and to give to this activity an economic ecological value.
However, trainers must be aware about endangered and rare plants, because over exploitation, or just collection for research purposes, may cause real danger on wild plants populations, even extinction.
Another threat to take into account is the erosion on traditional knowledge, because this is held by elderly population, mainly women, and migration to urban areas has decreased the botanical and habitat knowledge of MAP species.
So, people want to come back to nature and entrepreneurs find MAP production as a good opportunity, but they know few about how to deal with wild plants harvesting from an environmental and economic sustainable point of view. It is necessary to recover traditional knowledge, improve it with scientific research and transfer this information to those directly involved in rural development. But training has to be done properly.