Implementing value chain analysis to investigate drivers and sustainability of Cape Town's informal economy of wild-harvested traditional medicine
Moll, Eugene John
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Despite a highly visible presence, policy-maker knowledge of the drivers and participants in the informal economy of wild-harvested medicinal plants in Cape Town remains limited. To illuminate the workings of this local cultural business activity, the researchers adopted value chain analysis (VCA) for dissecting harvesting, trading and consumer demand in the trade. The study included qualitative, openended interviews with 58 traditional healers and a quantitative consumer study of 235 township households. Cape Town’s traditional healers are numerous and potentially more uniquely culturally diverse than elsewhere, serving various community health needs. Healer groups enhance their healing reputation by utilising wild-sourced medicines – much of which is harvested locally. Their services remain culturally important and utilised by at least 50% of all consumer respondents. The VCA revealed a universal healer and consumer requirement for wild medicine stocks which has considerable implications for policy-making, protected area management and traditional medicine-oriented conservation projects.