Our mindset about plant medicines must change – Prof. Kojo Yankah 


By Iddi Yire  

Accra, Aug 31, GNA- Professor Kojo Yankah, the Founder of the Pan-African Heritage Museum, has called for a change of mindset towards plant medicines to drive interest and investment in the sector. 

Prof. Yankah, who is a promoter of medicinal plants and eco-tourism, said out of about 110,000 medicinal plant species in Africa, less than 10 per cent had been cultivated – a situation he attributed to the lack of promotion and attitude of the people towards plant medicines. 

He made the call when he delivered the keynote address at the opening of the 7th Annual International Conference of the Society for Medicinal Plants and Economic Development (SOMPED) in Accra. 

The Conference assembled researchers, practitioners and stakeholders in the plant medicine industry, to discuss issues affecting the sector and to share ideas as well as research findings, to promote economic development. 

This year’s conference is on the theme: “Sustaining Medicinal Plants amid global economic challenges and climate change.” 

Prof. Yankah described plant medicines as the “pulse of the heartbeat of the nation” and appealed to African countries to explore the economic benefits of plant medicines and prioritise investment in the sector. 

“Medicinal plants are our heritage, and we should be proud of it,” Prof. Yankah said, and added that “we need to get to a point where our own scientists can validate our products.” 

As part of efforts to whip up interest and knowledge about medicinal plants, Prof. Yankah said schools should be encouraged to introduce students to medicinal plants, particularly at the primary level. 

“We need a mindset change and then back it with policies at all levels. We must explore the economic benefits of plant medicines,” he said. 

Prof. Olukemi A. Odukoya, the President of SOMPED, said herbal medicines should not be a “class product” but should be accessible and affordable to all to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

She said climate change was economically and geographically transforming the herbal medicine sector and urged scientists in developing countries to conduct more research to support the development of products. 

“Within this conference, we can share ideas and look at our research findings, not just sit back and leave herbal medicine as a heritage to the people up there. We need to harness resources as well as the challenges we are facing to put some of these things into the market,” Prof. Odukoya said. 

Prof. Kofi Bobi Barimah, the Former Executive Director at the Centre for Plant Medicine Research, said climate change threatened vegetation and plant medicine species and appealed to researchers to express interest in the area.  

He mentioned legislation, afforestation, restoration, enrichment planting, cultivation of gardens, arboreta, medicinal plant farms and protected areas as among the solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change on the sector. 

He said even though the conservation of plants was now attracting funds, researchers must be encouraged to lead the domestication of medicinal plants and the protection of plant genomic resources, in the advent of new varieties in the attempt to sustain medicinal plants for the future generation, Prof. Barimah said. 



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