Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 30, 2006

Herbal industry identified as a money spinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:40 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The local market for herb-based products is worth about RM6.2 billion annually but 85 per cent of the products are imported.
International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Ng Lip Yong said the Government had taken steps to rectify the anomaly.
He said the herbal industry had been identified as a potential money spinner, with small-and medium-sized enterprises taking the lead under the Third Industrial Master Plan.
“In terms of herbal production, our SMEs so far are only engaged in low value-added activities. This is set to change under the master plan,” he said at the second international Women’s Health and Asian Traditional (WHAT Medicine) conference at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
The three-day conference was closed by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah.
Ng said with the world market valued at a staggering US$80 billion (RM300 billion) and the great demand for herb- based health supplements, cosmetics, and fragrances, Malaysia should seize the opportunity to become a major player.
Conference organising chairman and Tropical Botanics chief executive Dr Rajen M. said the time had come for local herbal players to fully tap the industry’s potential.
He said Malaysia was the fourth largest producer of herbs in the Asia Pacific region and 12th globally and the industry here possessed all the “ingredients” needed for it to go big.
“We have plenty of herbs in our own backyard, the people are not strangers to using them and the Government is supporting the industry.
“What’s needed now is proper funding and facilities to further develop the industry.”
Rajen said there were 15,000 species of herbs identified in the country but only 2,000 were known to have medicinal value.
He said the country should also think about “renting” foreign expertise to maintain and develop the industry.
“We should not be satisfied with merely being a herb-growing country. We should strive to commercialise them.
“We should not repeat the mistake we made with rubber where we became the largest producer but ended up paying 10 times more for tyres.”
He said herb growers should also concentrate on the branding of their own products.

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