Open Access

Medicinal plants sold in the markets of Antananarivo, Madagascar

  • Maria Nirina Randriamiharisoa1Email author,
  • Alyse R. Kuhlman2,
  • Vololoniaina Jeannoda1,
  • Harison Rabarison1,
  • Nivo Rakotoarivelo3,
  • Tabita Randrianarivony3,
  • Fortunat Raktoarivony3,
  • Armand Randrianasolo2 and
  • Rainer W. Bussmann2
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201511:60

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-015-0046-y

Received: 13 June 2014

Accepted: 17 July 2015

Published: 28 July 2015

Abstract

Background

This study focuses on the large outdoor markets of the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo. As the largest metropolitan area in Madagascar with a population of nearly two million, the region has great capacity for consumption of medicinal plant remedies despite numerous pharmacies. Medicinal plant use spans all socioeconomic levels, and the diverse metropolitan population allows us to study a wide variety of people who consume these plants for medical purposes. The purpose of this study is to identify and generate a list of medicinal plants sold in the traditional markets with a focus on those collected in the forests around Antananarivo, get an idea of the quantities of medicinal plants sold in the markets around Antananarivo, and assess the economy of the medicinal plant markets.

Methods

In order to determine which medicinal plants are most consumed in Antananarivo, ethnobotanical enquiries were conducted in the five main markets of the capital city. Ethnobotanical surveys were conducted with medicinal plant traders, suppliers, harvesters and cultivators, with voucher specimens created from the plants discussed. Trade circuit information was established and the income generated by the trade of some of the species was assessed.

Results

The inventory of the Antananarivo markets resulted in a list of 89 commercialized plant species. Ten of the 89 were mentioned by 60-100 % of vendors. Profitability for vendors is high and competitive with other salaried positions within Antananarivo. Transportation costs are also high and therefore lower profitability for other members in the supply chain.

Conclusions

The markets of Antananarivo have always played a vital cultural role in the lives of urban Malagasy, but our study shows they also play an economic role not only for urban residents but rural harvesters as well. Continued research and monitoring of the non-timber forest products trade in Antananarivo is needed to better understand the impact of trade on the wild plant populations.

Keywords

Madagascar Urban market Medicinal plants

Background

The use of plants for medical treatment and therapy is a practice as old as humanity, dating as far back as the oldest known written documents and found in nearly every known culture [13]. Traditional medicine is rich due to the diversity of human groups, languages, and customs, combined with the diversity of ecological regions, leading to innovative plant use and specialized knowledge [4]. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 80 % of the population in developing countries depends mainly on traditional medicine for the treatment of ailments [5]. The dependence on remedies derived from medicinal plants is particularly important in developing countries where modern medicine is often absent or simply too expensive [6, 7]. Economic devaluation of the developing countries leads to higher prices of pharmaceuticals and makes medicinal plants and traditional medicine more attractive [8]. Additionally, some prefer traditional medicine for various reasons including familiarity, tradition and perceived safety [9, 10].

Medicinal plants can be of great importance in the daily lives of those who live near places where they grow, not only for their healing traditions but as a commodity to take to the urban areas where they are not locally found to be sold in the marketplace [11]. Trade of non-timber forest products (NTFP) has been a mainstay for rural economies with a large majority being sourced from wild populations [12]. Rural farmers and residents therefore have a financial interest to not only exploit and develop trade of these natural resources [13], but also to consider conservation measures [14, 15]. The domestic market of medicinal plants of Madagascar is not well documented, and the market for medicinal plants and derivatives only represents a small fraction compared to all internal and external trade of the country [16]. Our study focused on the city of Antananarivo and its medicinal plant markets. As the capital of Madagascar Antananarivo is the largest metropolitan area with a population of nearly 2 million, and the region has great potential for consumption of medicinal plant remedies despite numerous allopathic pharmacies [11]. Medicinal plant-use in Madagascar spans all socioeconomic levels and the diverse metropolitan population allowed to study a wide variety of people using plant products. The objective of this study was to identify and generate a list of medicinal plants sold in the traditional markets with a focus on those collected in the forests around Antananarivo, as well as getting information on the quantities of medicinal plants sold in the markets around Antananarivo, and to assess the economy of the medicinal plant markets. Interviews were started with the vendors at the major markets of Antananarivo, and continued with suppliers wherever possible. We then tried to elucidate who cultivated or harvested plants sourced by the suppliers and finally who held the knowledge of traditional plant medicine for the region.

Methods

Study area

Antananarivo is the capital of Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, and centrally located in the highlands at nearly 1,300 meters above sea level [17]. We conducted surveys in five major markets of Antananarivo: the Esplanade Analakely, Petite Vitesse, Pavilion Analakely, Isotry and Andravohangy. These markets were chosen based on the following criteria: market size and popularity, medicinal plant species sold on the premises, and knowledge of vendors regarding the use and sale of medicinal plants. Furthermore, markets in Antananarivo are housed in permanent buildings where vendors occupy permanent booths, which allowed for repeat visits to the same vendor to update lists and conduct further interviews.

Markets

The medicinal plant market includes two subsectors: the traditional medicinal plant market and the pharmaceutical market. The traditional plant market, known as raokandro, includes plants for public use with little to no processing (dried, raw material). The plants were sold either singularly or as a mix with other plants for a particular treatment. Other types of legal plant markets in Antananarivo are pharmaceutical, cosmetics and aromatherapy shops marked with HOMEOPHARMA and IRMA, selling mostly medicinal plants and medicinal plant products that have undergone extensive modification (liquid extract, cream, ointment). The present study focused on the medicinal plant trade within the raokandro. A variety of actors were involved in the sale of medicinal plants. These included operators, collectors, harvesters, and small retailers. The definitions we followed were taken from the ministerial decree number 2915/87 of 30 June 1987 and the Decree of 17 November 1930 mentioned in Articles 32 and 33 are presented in Table 1.
Table 1

Definition of participants within the herbal market trade scheme. Types of collectors and their role within the trade as defined by the Madagascar government

Operators

Persons who legally hold a license or an operating agreement to operate and collect medicinal plants and forest products to sell or use as raw materials.

Collectors

These are individuals who collect plants from those who harvest in the forest. They are authorized to carry out the grouping of plants with several collectors.

Harvesters

These are the persons authorized to conduct harvesting or gathering medicinal plants for commercial purposes

Rural harvesters

Those who come from the rural areas surrounding the city of Antananarivo to deliver medicinal species to the market sellers

Urban harvesters

people living in the vicinity of the capital, which also make deliveries to vendors of medicinal plants in the traditional market of Antananarivo

Public resellers (vendors)

These are the people who sell plants to the public. Called "tapa-mpivarotra kazo" or "mpivarotra raokandro” in Malagasy.

Ethnobotanical surveys

To gather information about the market of medicinal plants, a series of semi-structured interviews were conducted with traders at the traditional markets (raokandro) of Antananarivo after obtaining oral prior informed consent. Questionnaires were used as a foundation for discussions with the collectors and traders. During market interviews we conducted our survey individually and iteratively [18]. All medicinal species that were discussed with the vendors were also purchased from the vendors at the regular price. Medicinal plants were then identified at the department of Plant Biology and Ecology at the University of Antananarivo and crosschecked with published ethnobotanical and floristic literature where available [1922]. Plant names follow www. TROPICOS.org. Herbarium vouchers were deposited at the herbaria of Centre National de la Recherche Appliquée au Developement Rural (TEF), Parc de Tsimbazaza (TAN) and Missouri Botanical Garden (MO).

Statistical analysis

For each medicinal plant a Use Index (UI%) was calculated to give a ranking of the importance of the use and trade of medicinal species in markets of Antananarivo. The UI% is calculated from the formula, UI = (na/NA) x 100, where na is the number of interviewees who cite the species as useful and NA is the totally number of people interviewed [23]. In this case, na represents represent the number of vendors who sell a particular medicinal species. The following formulas were used to calculate the profit margin of the various intermediaries surveyed. For sellers, Bv = PV- PA where the benefit to vendors (Bv) is the difference between the sale price (PV) and the purchase price (PA). For harvesters (rural and urban), Bh = ΣR - ΣEx, where the benefit to harvesters (Bh) is the difference between the revenue (R) and expenditure costs (Ex). Profit margin (PM) was calculated with PM = B / ΣR, based on [23].

Results and discussion

We interviewed 86 people in the traditional markets of medicinal plants in Antananarivo. Table 2 summarizes the survey sites and the number of informants surveyed.
Table 2

Market sites and number of informants surveyed

Market

Number of vendors

Rural harvesters

Intermediaries or Urban harvesters

Esplanade Analakely

9

0

3

Petite Vitesse

21

15

7

Andravoahangy

21

5

0

Pavilion Analakely

2

0

0

Isotry

3

0

0

Total

56

20

10

Total interviewed

86

We were able to identify 89 medicinal plant species from 56 vendors. A list of medicinal plants is presented in Table 3. The actual number of species sold is likely higher than what we were able to identify because of the study’s limited duration [24]. Furthermore, vendors spoke only about plants that at the time of the interview were available in their stalls. Other plants might be sold at other times, but if they were not available for purchase the sellers did not mention them.
Table 3

List of medicinal plants sold at the Antananarivo medicinal markets. Scientific name, vernacular name, plant part used, disease treated and voucher number [MTR = Randriamiharisoa, Maria T.] for all 89 plants identified at the Antananarivo Markets. Use citations were compared with Madagascar ethnobotany published literature: [1] Boiteau P, Allorge- Boiteau L, 1993; [2] Samyn, JM, 1999; [3] Gurib-Fakim A, Brendler T, 2004

Scientific name

Vernacular name

Part used

Application

Uses cited in literature

Voucher number

Acanthaceae

     

Avicennia marina (Forssk.) Vierh.

Afiafy

Leaf

Stomach ulcer

 

MTR142

Justicia sp.

Belohalika

Leaf

Neuralgia

 

MTR190

Amaranthaceae

     

Cyathula uncinulata (Schrad.) Schinz

Tangogo

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis, diabetes, cardiac problems

 

MTR163

Anacardiaceae

     

Anacardium occidentale L.

Mahabibo

Leaf

Diabetes, hemorrhoids, stomach ulcer, allergies, hepatitis, wounds, incontinence, anorexia

 

MTR127

Rhus taratana (Baker) H. Perrier

Andriambavimahery

Leaf

Wounds, stomach ulcer

 

MTR174

Apiaceae

     

Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.

Talapetraka

Entire plant

Stomach ulcer, wounds

Wounds3, skin eczema3, accesses3, conjunctivitis3

MTR138

Apocynaceae

     

Catharanthus lanceus (Bojer ex A. DC.) Pichon

Vonenina

Root

Cancer

Diuretic2, purgative2, vermifuge2, sores2

MTR161

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don

Vonenina

Root

Cancer, appetite suppressant

Hypotensive1, antidepressant1, antitumoral1, purgative2, diabetes2, appetite suppressant2, vermifuge3, diarrhea3, dysentery3

MTR162

Cynanchum sp.

Vahamavo

Leaf

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction

 

MTR191

Pentopetia sp.

Tandrokosy

Leaf

Cough, hepatitis, neuralgia

 

MTR189

Araliaceae

     

Schefflera bojeri (Seem.) R. Vig.

Tsingila

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis

 

MTR143

Schefflera sp.

Ramadio

Leaf

Neurasthenia, back pain

 

MTR144

Asteraceae

     

Brachylaena ramiflora (DC.) Humbert

Ramanjavona

Leaf

Asthenia, stomach ulcer,

 

MTR173

Cynara scolymus L.

Artichaut

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis

 

MTR192

Distephanus polygalifolius (Less.) H. Rob. & B. Kahn

Ninginingina

Leaf

Syphilis, neuralgia, back pain, stomach ulcerm, hepatitis, albumin, incontinence

 

MTR136

Emilia citrina DC.

Tsiotsiona

Leaf

Asthenia, anorexia

 

MTR202

Helichrysum faradifani Scott- Elliot

Haihalala

Leaf

Gonorrhea, cough, asthenia, fever, stomach ulcer, hepatitis

 

MTR159

Helichrysum gymnocephalum (DC.) Humbert

Rambiazina

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, cough, wound, severe headache

Headaches1, bronchitis1, ulcers1, heartburn2, upset stomach2, fever2, diarrhea3, dysmenorrhea3, rheumatism3, gout3

MTR160

Inulanthera brownii (Hochr.) Källersjö

Kelimavitrika

Leaf

Immune system of children, erectile dysfunction, stiffness

 

MTR128

Psiadia altissima (DC.) Drake

Sakatavilotra

Leaf

Cough, wound, diarrhea

Fever3, abdominal pain3, antiseptic3, toothache3, boils3

MTR220

Senecio canaliculatus Bojer ex DC.

Ramijaingy

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, gastroenteritis, syphilis

 

MTR201

Vernonia appendiculata Less.

Ambiaty

Leaf

Fever, nerves

 

MTR193

Bignoniaceae

     

Jacaranda mimosifolia D. Don

Zaharandaha

Leaf

Sinusitis, severe headache

 

MTR145

Phyllarthron bojeranum DC.

Zahana

Leaf

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction, severe headache, gonorrhea, cough, syphilis

 

MTR175

Symphytum orientale L.

Konsody ou Maseza

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis

 

MTR203

Cactaceae

     

Cereus triangularis (L.) Haw.

Tsilo

Root

Kidney stones, urinary tract problems, syphilis, gonorrhea

 

MTR158

Canellaceae

     

Cinnamosma madagascariensis Danguy

Mandravasarotra

Bark

Astenia, erectile dysfunction, stomach ulcer

Stomach pain3, colic3, analgesic3, indigestion3, stimulant3, cough3, dysentery3

MTR194

Celastraceae

     

Mystroxylon aethiopicum (Thunb.) Loes.

Fanazava

Leaf

Neuralgia, hepatitis, albumin, erectile dysfunction, back pain, urinary tract problems, stomach ulcer, hypertension, immune deficiency

Fatigue3,neuralgia3, purgative3, vertigo3

MTR126

Combretaceae

     

Combretum coccineum (Sonn.) Lam.

Tamenaka

Fruit

Intestinal parasites

Anthelmintic,3, liver problems3

MTR200

Terminalia catappa L.

Atafana

Leaf

Urinary tract problems

Astringent3, sudorific3, dysentery3

MTR188

Commelinaceae

     

Commelina madagascarica C.B. Clarke

Nifinakanga

Leaf

Abortifacient, acne

 

MTR176

Crassulaceae

     

Kalanchoe prolifera R. Hamet

Sodifafana

Leaf

Neurasthenia

Boils3, furuncles3, wounds3, rheumatism3

MTR186

Cyperaceae

     

Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis (Willd.) Kük.

Fonjozoro

Stem

Emphysema, back pain

 

MTR146

Droseraceae

     

Drosera madagascariensis DC.

Mahantanando

Leaf

Conjunctivitis, enurensis

Coughs3, toothpaste3, dyspepsia3, anemia3

MTR129

Ebenaceae

     

Diospyros sp.

Bois de rose

Bark

Cysticercosis, intestinal parasites, taxoplasmosis, emphysema, diabetes, albumin regulation, allergies

 

MTR171

Equisetaceae

     

Equisetum sp.

Tsitoatoana

Leaf

Constipation, urinary tract problems

 

MTR177

Euphorbiaceae

     

Ricinus communis L.

Tanantanamanga

Leaf

Asthenia, hemorrhoids, wounds, intestinal parasites, cold

Galactagogue1,2, purgative1,2, laxative1,2, intestinal worms1, tapeworm1, headache2, rheumatism2, dental cavities2, wounds2, fevers2

MTR164

Fabaceae

     

Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb.

Vatolalaka

Fruit

Hemorrhoids, appendicitis

 

MTR204

Phylloxylon xylophylloides (Baker) Du Puy, Labat & Schrire

Arahara

Leaf

Hepatitis, urinary tract problems, pharyngitis

 

MTR184

Senna septentrionalis (Viv.) H.S. Irwin & Barneby

Anjanajana

Leaf

Immune system children, gastroenteritis

 

MTR147

Senna occidentalis (L.) Link

Tsotsorinangatra

Stem

Syphilis, gonorrhea, prostate tumor, hypertension, hepatitis, rheumatism

 

MTR165

Tamarindus indica L.

Voamadilo

Leaf

Constipation, gastroenteritis, wounds

Laxative1,vermifuge1, stomach ache1, general wounds1

MTR125

Gentianaceae

     

Tachiadenus longifolius Scott- Elliot

Tapabatana

Leaf

Diarrhea, stomach ulcer

 

MTR172

Gesneriaceae

     

Streptocarpus hilsenbergii R. Br.

Mangavony

Enitre plant

Hepatitis, acne

 

MTR185

Hydrostachyaceae

     

Hydrostachys stolonifera Baker

Tsilavondrina

Leaf

Asthenia

 

MTR187

Hypericaceae

     

Harungana madagascariensis Lam. ex Poir.

Harongana

Leaf

Wounds, asthma, cough, stomach ulcer, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, albumin, allergies, insomnia

Scabies1,2, stomach ache1, flatulence1, anticatarrhal1,2, bladder infections2, syphilis2, menstruation regulation2, fever2, wounds2, diarrhea2,3, hemorrhoids2, skin diseases3

MTR130

Psorospermum sp.

Todihazo

Stem

Scabies, leprosy

 

MTR148

Psorospermum ferrovestitum Baker

Andriambolamena

Leaf

Female infertility, abortifacient, stomach ulcer, hypertension, intestinal parasites

 

MTR166

Lamiaceae

     

Ocimum gratissimum L.

Romba

Leaf

Severe headache, albumin, wounds, abortifacient, cold, low calcium, dental problems

Digestion3, chest complaints3, diarrhea3, vomiting3, anticatarrh3, antiseptic3

MTR205

Tetradenia riparia (Hochst.) Codd

Borona

Leaf

Cough, wounds, hepatitis

 

MTR221

Lauraceae

     

Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl

Ravitsara

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis, abortifacient, jaundice, hypertension, appendicitis, rheumatism

Fevers3, rheumatism3, abortifacient3

MTR122

Loganiaceae

     

Anthocleista madagascariensis Baker

Landemy

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, diarrhea, malaria, constipation, abdominal colic, severe headache

Fever1,2, dysentery1,2, emetic1,2, laxative1,2

MTR149

Lycopodiaceae

     

Lycopodium sp.

Karakaratoloha

Leaf

Hepatitis, hypertension, gastroenteritis, epilepsy

 

MTR157

Meliaceae

     

Azadirachta indica A. Juss.

Nimo

Leaf

Asthenia, diabetes, albumin, rheumatism, pelvic pain, boils, hepatitis, kidney stones, burns, constipation, high cholesterol

 

MTR124

Cedrelopsis grevei Baill.

Katrafay

Bark

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction, neurasthenia, back pain

 

MTR141

Neobeguea mahafaliensis J.-F. Leroy

Andy

Bark

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction'

 

MTR183

Molluginaceae

     

Mollugo nudicaulis Lam.

Aferotany

Entire plant

Cough, gastroenteritis

 

MTR178

Moraceae

     

Ficus reflexa Thunb.

Nonoka

Leaf

Hepatitis, gastroenteritis, wounds, albumin, hemorrhoids

 

MTR167

Morus alba L.

Voaroihazo

Leaf

Low calium, anorexia

 

MTR209

Primulaceae

     

Embelia concinna Baker

Tanterakala

Leaf

Intestinal parasites, erectile dysfunction

 

MTR206

Myrtaceae

     

Eucalyptus citriodora Hook.

Kininina oliva

Leaf

Cold, severe headache

 

MTR210

Eucalyptus sp.

Kininimpotsy

Leaf

Cold, severe headache

 

MTR211

Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels

Rotra

Bark

Diarrhea, gastroenteritis

 

MTR131

Nymphaeaceae

     

Nymphaea sp.

Betsimilana

Leaf

Female infertility, abortifacient, albumin, painful menstruation

 

MTR219

Onagraceae

     

Ludwigia octovalvis (Jacq.) P.H. Raven

Volondrano

Leaf

Emphysema

Nose bleeds3, diarrhea3, malnourishment3

MTR150

Orchiaceae

     

Vanilla madagascariensis Rolfe

Vahinamalona

Stem

Erectile dysfunction, asthenia

Aphrodisiac1,

MTR208

Pedaliaceae

     

Uncarina sp.

Farehitra

Leaf

Acne

Dandruff3, alopecia3

MTR132

Poaceae

     

Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

Fandrotrarana

Entire plant

Syphilis, kidney stones

 

MTR168

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeusch.

Fakatenina

Root

Kidney stones

 

MTR182

Zea mays L.

Volokatsaka

Silk

Urinary tract problems, hepatitis, kidney stones

 

MTR156

Pteridaceae

     

Adiantum capillus-veneris L.

Ampanga

Leaf

Allergies, cough

Respiratory problems1, diuretic1, chickenpox1, measles1

MTR207

Ranunculaceae

     

Clematis mauritiana Lam.

Farimafy

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis, erectile dysfunction

Antiasthmatic3, rheumatism3, cough3, bronchitis3, abdominal pains3

MTR179

Rubiaceae

     

Oldenlandia sp.

Ahipody

Leaf

Scabies, leprosy

 

MTR218

Paederia foetida L.

Vahamaibo, laingomaimbo

Leaf

Dental issues, wound, stomach ulcer, gastroenteritis

Diuretic1,3, diaphoretic1, purgative1, skin issues1,3, ulcers1, boils3, venereal diseases3, bladder issues3, gastric pains3

MTR123

Pauridiantha paucinervis (Hiern) Bremek.

Tamirova

Leaf

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis, hypertension, urinary tract problems, rheumatism, malaria, albumin, diabetes

 

MTR153

Rutaceae

     

Toddalia asiatica (L.) Lam.

Fanala simba

Elaf

Syphilis, gonorrhea

Malaria3, digestive complaints3, fever3, cholera3, diarrhea3, rheumatism3, syphilis3

MTR181

Salicaceae

     

Homalium parkeri Baker

Hazomby

Bark

Dental issues

 

MTR140

Salviniaceae

     

Azolla sp.

Ramilamina

Lower

Cardiac arrest

 

MTR170

Smilacaceae

     

Smilax anceps Willd.

Avotra

Leaf

Gastroenteritis, abdominal colic

Varicose veins3,eczema3, liver disorders3

MTR180

Solanaceae

     

Brugmansia candida Pers.

Datroa

Leaf

Epilepsy, paraplegia

 

MTR152

Physalis peruviana L.

Voanantsindrana

Leaf

Rheumatism, urinary tract problems, syphilis, stomach ulcer, hepatitis

Eat berries before physical exertion1, diuretic1,3, kidney stones1, rheumatism1, abscess2, liver disease2, gout3, fever3, heart palpitations3, emollient3

MTR137

Solanum mauritianum Scop.

Seva

Leaf

Hepatitis, wound

General disinfectant1, Stomach ulcers2

MTR151

Stilbaceae

     

Nuxia capitata Baker

Valanirana

Leaf

Gastroenteritis, asthenia, cough

 

MTR169

Urticaceae

     

Urera acuminata (Poir.) Gaudich. ex Decne.

Sampy vato

Leaf

Kidney stones, abortifacient, hepatitis, stomach ulcer

Irritant to skin and eyes3, childbirth3

MTR133

Verbenaceae

     

Lantana camara L.

Randriaka

Leaf

Hemorrhage, hypertension

 

MTR155

Xanthorrhoeaceae

     

Aloe macroclada Baker

Vahona

Leaf

Cancer, allergies, acne, fungus

 

MTR139

Dianella ensifolia (L.) DC.

Erana

Leaf

Intestinal parasites, constipation, back pain, gonorrhea

Eczema3, dysentery3, stomach pains3

MTR154

Zingiberaceae

     

Zingiber sp.

Tamotamo

Tuber

Cough

 

MTR135

Zingiber officinale Roscoe

Sakamalao

Tuber

Cough

 

MTR134

Among the medicinal species available at the major markets of the city of Antananarivo, we encountered nine plant part used: leaves (73 %), bark (7 %), stems (5 %), roots (5 %), entire plant (4 %), fruit (2 %), tuber (2 %), flower (1 %), other (1 %). (Fig. 1) Leaves were by far the most common plant material used, followed by bark. While leaves and bark were often well represented in other studies, only 50 % of the combined total in our study were leaves and bark, similar to in Sierra Leone [25]. These most common health complaints treated with plants were hepatitis, kidney stones, asthenia, wounds, coughs and gastroenteritis (Fig. 2).
Fig. 1

Plant parts most commonly sold

Fig. 2

Number of plant species sold for specific ailments

Most traded medicinal species

Table 4 lists the ten most traded species in the markets, including the Use Index calculated for each of these species, which varied from 61 % to 100 %. Prices are typically the main economic indicators about the supply and demand for a product, with higher prices indicating species with higher demand and lower supply. However, we found that the organization of economic actors within the regional medicinal plant trade was also a determinant of prices, often affecting the price based on who and how the species was sourced. Vendors bought their plants from rural harvesters, urban harvesters, and collectors, which is a common trade pattern found in other parts of Africa as well [26]. Increased number of intermediaries before a species reaches the sellers increased the price on the market. Two commercial channels could be distinguished: a short circuit, when harvesters moved to Antananarivo to be closer to the markets in order to sell their products directly themselves, and a long circuit, consisting of a long chain of intermediaries the products passed through before reaching sellers in Antananarivo (Fig. 3). The purchase price of medicinal plants varied widely depending on the species, but we found that prices were constant for a given species.
Table 4

Use index calculated for the most traded species and their treatment associations

Family

Scientific name

Vernacular name

Application

Use index

Rubiaceae

Pauridiantha paucinervis (Hiern) Bremek.

Tamirova

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis, high blood pressure, urogenital diseases, rheumatism, malaria, edema, diabetes

100 %

Meliaceae

Cedrelopsis grevei Baill.

Katrafay

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction, back pain

100 %

Meliaceae

Neobeguea mahafaliensis J.-F. Leroy

Andy

Asthenia, erectile dysfunction

82 %

Cactaceae

Cereus triangularis (L.) Haw.

Tsilo

Kidney stones, dysuria, anuria, syphilis, gonorrhea

78 %

Fabaceae

Senna occidentalis (L.) Link

Tsotsorinangatra

Syphilis, gonorrhea, enlarged prostate, high blood pressure, rheumatism, hepatitis

70 %

Lamiaceae

Ocimum gratissimum L.

Romba

Intense headache, edema, wounds, repeated miscarriages, cold, hypocalcemia, dental pain

65 %

Boraginaceae

Symphytum orientale L.

Konsody

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis

65 %

Asteraceae

Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens Wiklund

Artichaut

Stomach ulcer, hepatitis

64 %

Asteraceae

Distephanus polygalifolius (Less.) H. Rob. & B. Kahn

Ninginingina

Syphilis, neuralgia, back pain, stomach ulcer, hepatitis, edema, enuresis

61 %

Urticaceae

Urera acuminata (Poir.) Gaudich. ex Decne.

Sampivato

Kidney stones, repeated miscarriages, hepatitis, stomach ulcer

61 %

Fig. 3

Market chain of medicinal plants in sold in Antananarivo

However, product price increased with each change of hands as transportation costs or other fees incurred. As found in other parts of the world, the amount of time, energy and resources needed to transport medicinal plants to the market was considered extremely high [27]. In addition, the price also fluctuated depending on the customer's apparent wealth and the type of market (i.e.: tourist handicraft market). Medicinal plants were often supplied from a collector two to four times a week, while some species were only delivered once a month or once a year (in the case of plants came from other provinces of Madagascar). Urban harvesters could afford to bring small amounts of plants (a basket or box) as they sold their products almost daily. Table 5 summarizes the types of providers and delivery frequency by type of market.
Table 5

Suppliers and frequency of deliveries at each market site

Market

Frequency of delivery

Transportation

 

Rural harvesters

Urban harvesters

Collection

 

Andravoahangy

2 times a week

Daily

3x/month

By foot

Isotry

Irregular

Daily

Irregular

By foot

Petite vitesse

4 times a week

Daily

1- 2 / week

By foot

Esplanade Analakely

Irregular

Daily

Irregular

By foot

Local markets worldwide are a thriving business for both rural and urban dwellers, with a steady demand for medicinal plants. To understand the possible benefits for rural harvesters, several factors needed to be taken into account: 1) the cost of transporting goods 2) the frequency of deliveries to the Antananarivo markets 3) the quantity and value of the species transported to the market. Transport costs from rural areas of Antananarivo depended greatly upon the state of the road and mode of transportation and varied from $ 0.45 - $ 1.34 per person transporting plants. The most common mode of transport was carrying plant products “on their backs”, or by hand, from the rural areas to the city market, with costs ranging from $ 0.08 – $ 0.15 per bag. Overall, transportation costs to deliver the goods to the vendors of medicinal plants in the major markets of the city of Antananarivo ranged anywhere from $ 3.39 - $ 8.57 per week. If four bags of medicinal plants (which was the standard weekly amount per vender) were sold at a price of $ 4 - $ 5 per bag, earnings were $ 12 - $ 20 a week. The profit margin ranged from 40 % - 81 %.

Case study: Pauridiantha paucinervis and Mystroxylon aethiopicium

To further analyze the trade value of the medicinal plants in Antananarivo, we used the most used single species, Pauridiantha paucinevris, and a species that was present in most of the mixtures, Mystroxylon aethiopicium for closer analysis.

In the market, Pauridiantha paucinervis was sold packaged in a sealed, labeled bags. We found that package was uniform in all markets. Collectors sold this product to vendors for an average of $ 0.06 per package, and the frequency of deliveries was based on fluctuating demand in the markets. The selling price of the product in the market ranged from $ 0.08 - $ 0.17. Thus, the selling price of this product was double or even triple compared to its purchase price. According to our surveys vendors sold an average of six bags of P. paucinervis each day. Thus, the average earnings for the sale of P. paucinervis amounted to $ 0.50 per day, and the monthly earnings could be upwards of $ 22.50.

Mystroxylon aethiopicium was sold at $ 0.10 - $ 0.20 per package, but this species was only rarely sold alone, but rather was packaged with other herbs to form a tea to treat specific ailments. Sellers bought from collectors once a week, and the order quantity, depending heavily on supply and demand, was often irregular. The purchase price of this species from suppliers was $ 0.03 – $ 0.30, depending on volume. The profit margin of sales was 100 % to 150 % if the plant was sold alone, and even higher if it was combined with other herbs. In the latter case, the sale price varied according to the type of disease and also the amount needed for treatment. Vendors sold an average of 10 packets of M. aethiopicium a day, yielding an average of $ 0.30. The average monthly income for a vendor selling M. aethiopicium was about $10. Therefore, the combined sale of only P. paucinervis and M. aethiopicium averaged a monthly gross income of $25. Considering that the professional monthly minimum wage guarantee in Madagascar is $25, the medicinal plant trade can be considered lucrative. However, given the limited amount of time, and limited number of interviews, we could not elucidate the exact quantity of plant material sold in the markets.

Conclusions

Market studies of non-timber forest products (NFTP) have in the past focused mostly on rural economies and export markets. Recently, increased interest in the domestic marketplace has resulted in more data about economic value of NFTP in the domestic medicinal plant trade. It is difficult to quantify the number of medicinal plants that circulate in the markets of a city like Antananarivo, because this number is highly dependent on market dynamics, which can be quite irregular even for a single plant species. But our estimates show that the sale of medicinal plants in the domestic market provided income for all players - vendors, collectors and harvesters - allowing them to supplement or fully supply their annual income. The impact of these urban traditional markets on the urban and rural economy can be substantial [28]. This booming business has real implications for conservation concerns, which should be researched further to fully explore the impact of the medicinal plant trade on the ecological well-being of the forests where the plants are sourced. Further research and monitoring of the Antananarivo markets will also be invaluable to chart the sustainable use of wild natural resources.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Plant Biology and Ecology Department at the University of Antananarivo for their support and cooperation while carrying out this research. We thank our supervisors for their valuable advice, encouragement and methodological guidelines. We also thank the vendors in all of the markets of Antananarivo for freely giving their time and knowledge.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of Antananarivo
(2)
William L. Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden
(3)
Missouri Botanical Garden, Madagascar Research and Conservation Program

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Copyright

© Randriamiharisoa et al. 2015

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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