Address by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi, MP, on the occasion of the launch of Maila Conservation of Medicinal Plants project at Maila sport grounds, Maila village, Makhado, Limpopo
3 Aug 2010
Traditional healers or practitioners
Members of the community
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
Good morning, ndi matsheloni
I am gratified by your warm welcome together with Makhado municipality and Maila community. We are here today to announce the launch of the Maila Conservation of Medicinal Plant project.
This project has been set to draw attention to the need for development, promotion and protection of our natural or biological resources and their associated indigenous knowledge.
2010 is International Year of Biodiversity and in South Africa biodiversity is one of the greatest assets. It includes the knowledge people have developed over centuries on the properties of plants, seeds, algae and other biological resources. South Africa is diverse not simply in terms of our people and culture, but also in terms of our biological resources and ecology.
The Department of Environmental Affairs' Community Based Natural Resources Management programme has over the years been collaborating with the provincial departments and communities with the intention of economic development on our rural areas and sustainable use of the natural resources leading to safer environment, food security, job creation and a better life for all.
In South Africa traditional medicine is the preferred primary healthcare choice for about 70 percent of the overall population and it has been an essential resource for human health from ancient times.
These medicinal plants are used to treat ailments such as coughs, headaches, urinary disorder, throat problems, ulcers, wounds, fever, constipation, cancer and high blood pressure. At the same time, there is a growing appreciation of the value of medicinal plants and their associated traditional knowledge by the modern industries, especially Pharmaceutical industry.
Many widely used products such as plant based medicines and cosmetics produced by modern industries are derived from medicinal plants, and majority of them are indigenous and endemic to South Africa. This makes South Africa an attractive venture for companies seeking novel compounds for different applications e.g. medical, agricultural, horticultural, or environmental.
It is important to acknowledge that Traditional medicinal practitioners or healers are among the most knowledgeable people about medicinal plants in local communities. They have much to offer in identifying local conservation issues and the development of improved systems for managing medicinal plants.
Conditions for conservation are greatly enhanced when the owners and stewards of medicinal plants receive equitable benefits arising from the use of these resources, and feel that they are properly compensated for the level of effort involved in their contributions.
In the context of medicinal plants, equity entails several major components, including: the rights of local communities to control access to these medicinal plants; where access has been granted, the rights of the local community to fairly negotiate and enter into material transfer and benefit sharing agreements regarding the sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of their medicinal plants resources; and the rights of local communities to protect their indigenous knowledge and be appropriately compensated for any commercial use of their indigenous knowledge.
It is against this background that the Department of Environmental Affairs has set aside about R20 million which has been earmarked specifically for the implementation of this project we are launching today, the Maila Conservation of Medicinal Plants project.
This project entails the establishment of a nursery, laboratory, guard house, medicinal plant garden, research centre and fencing of the whole facility. This project will be implemented using the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) principles as part of the departmental social responsibility, policy and project (SRPP) and therefore responds to government wide strategy of poverty alleviation through job creation and skills development.
In conclusion, I would like to invite members of the media to join us when we travel to the identified site for the sod turning ceremony. I also want to appeal to members of the community to visit our Water Use Efficiency "Blue Bus" parked in the vicinity of the Sports Ground to interact with the officials and learn more about waste management, climate change, the importance of water conservation and water demand management.
Source: Department of Environmental Affairs
Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs
3 Aug 2010
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