The use and trade in medicinal plant products in South Africa is a cultivating sector of rural development. In order to conserve these plants and develop sustainable production, policies to promote domestication have been adopted. However, users view cultivated plants with scepticism. The key for policy makers is to understand how users respond to scarcity of species and whether domestication can be a solution. The main purpose of the study is to give an overview of variables that influence the rate of adoption of medicinal plant gardens. The last discussion will investigate whether domestication of species is an appropriate solution to conservation, or whether the intervention should be promoted as a local economic development option. The research took the form of a case study approach focusing on a specific area, with participatory and qualitative phases providing the basis for a semi-structured interview schedule, designed to assess the healer's acceptability of medicinal plant gardens, their comparative perception of cultivated and collected plants in their natural habitat/environment, and constraints in the establishment of medicinal plant gardens. Results indicated that:<li> The type of healer influences acceptability of medicinal plant gardens; •Healers use medicinal plant gardens to supply urban demand and provide income; • Healer and client perceptions of medicinal plant potency influence acceptability of cultivated plants; •Type of healer influences the environment in which species are collected. • Ancestral belief system forms an integral component of healers behavioural pattern.</li> The study concludes that:<li> Local scarcity of medicinal plants alone does not stimulate demand for nurseries; • Rituals associated with some treatments influence collection, storage and cultivation patterns; • Policy makers also need to promote domestication for commercial production and to investigate alternatives for propagating the population of some plant species in their natural habitat/environment to cater for specific needs of healers and • Interview responses, although useful, cannot always be taken at face value<//i>.
Dissertation (M Inst Agrar ( Agricultural Extension))--University of Pretoria, 2005.