FG, BDG plan herbal medicine exposition in Abuja next month

Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

STAKEHOLDERS in natural medicine including the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), and the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) are set to host “HerbFEST 2015: The Leading African Herbal, Health Foods and Natural Products Expo in Abuja” from October 6 to 8, 2015, at at Raw Material Research and Development Council, Abuja.

The conference is themed “Food as Medicine: Utilisation and Sustainable Exploitation of African Medicinal Plants and Natural Products.”

Chairman BDCP and professor of pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu, said: “In the light of the dwindling economic fortunes in the nation, herbal medicine can boost Nigeria’s economy. There is need to diversify the economy by developing those areas where we have comparative advantage over other countries. By developing traditional medicine, specifically herbal medicine, and integrating the practice in conventional practices in hospitals, Nigeria can compete and even over take countries like India and China.

“In fact the United States reported last month that it makes $200 billion yearly from the marketing of functional foods and we are more endowed than they are in terms of bio-resources and natural products. We can make more than that here in Nigeria if only we develop natural medicine.

“All we need is a ribbon to tie these developments in traditional and indigenous medicine together. We need to have a platform to sit on to debate these issue, encourage one another and move forward. What we need is HerbFEST.

“HerbFEST Nigeria is the one and only event and exhibition of its kind in Africa, taking place at Raw Materials Research Development Council (RMRDC) in Maitama Abuja on October 6 to 8, 2015.”

Iwu, who was also a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), said HerbFEST, which is in its sixth year, is aimed to introduce traditional Nigerian herbal medicine and natural organic products to Nigerians and the rest of the world and arouse interest in the thriving natural and organic products market.

The focus, according to Iwu, will be on “economic exploitation of African medicinal plants and natural products in healthcare delivery with special attention on Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA), Traditional Bone Setters (TBS), massage therapists, drug development from medicinal plants with issues of clinical trials as proof of efficacy.

“Others are, good agricultural practices from farm to markets and cultivation to packaging (value chains); herbal products in the management of metabolic disorder (diabetes etc.); products’ profile from African medicinal plants/health foods and natural products.”

On the issue of imported foods, Iwu said: “It is dangerous for you to eat any food not produced in Nigeria. It is dangerous to eat imported chicken. If you want to eat vegetables it has to be local ones. Imported foods contain toxins and chemicals used to preserve them, which can be cancerous. You notice that when you go to foreign countries or when you import foreign fruits like banana or apple they look so clean and glossy and may not go bad in days.”

Director General of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo, said: “There is no way you get food imported into this country without importing toxins. All foods should be home grown and sourced.

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