Medicinal plants (MPs) are an important component of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), which are traditionally used in healthcare and source of livelihood all over the world. In an over-populated country like Bangladesh, the pressure on natural forests is immense; thus the cultivation of MPs can significantly contribute towards improving the livelihood of poor people, reducing the pressure on natural forests and enhancing biological diversity. Notwithstanding the growing recognition of its importance and economic and ecological potential, there has been little research on MPs, especially the cultivation, management and marketing aspects, in Bangladesh. Based on extensive fieldwork in a northern district of Bangladesh, this study explores various aspects of the cultivation, management and marketing of MPs. How collective efforts have brought economic and social benefits to communities was also examined in this study. It assesses the major processes and elements of management, identifies key problems and challenges and indicates ways of maximizing the potential of this important sector. The issues covered in this research include: farmers ’ perceptions and experiences; existing research and policy-making processes related to the MP sector; constraining factors (such as lack of processing technology, inadequate transportation, logistics, financial and storage infrastructure, lack of institutional capacity); markets, finance and networking; land use; pattern of livelihood and value chain issue.
European Journal of Environmental Sciences / Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.60-68