Traditional medicine plays a major role in the primary health care of many people living in rural areas. South Africa is a
home to over 30,000 species of higher plants and 3,000 of these species have been found to be used in traditional medicine across the
country. South African medicinal plants are decreasing at an alarming rate as a result of over exploitation. Today many medicinal plants
face extinction but detailed information is lacking. The purpose of this paper was to review current and proposed cultivation strategies
that could be used to improve plant conservation statuses, livelihoods of the people involved in medicinal plant industry and
sustainability of this industry.
Material and Method:
In this review, emphasis was on the members of Hyacinthaceae family and the species Siphonochilus aethiopicus
(Schweinf) B.L. Burtt (Zingiberaceae), which are some of the most traded and used in traditional herbal medicine. Detailed literature
search was conducted on the current strategies that are being used for the cultivation of medicinal and food crops and a conceptual
analysis of how technologies used for the cultivation of non-medicinal crops could be adopted for cultivation of medicinal plants in
Africa. Siphonochilus aethiopicus
was used as a case study to demonstrate the potential of using alternative cultivation strategy such as
hydroponics in the cultivation of medicinal plants.
Result and Conclusion:
The results showed that hydroponics has the potential to improve plant growth and yield of desired plant parts
even in areas where these plants do not normally grow under natural conditions. This was the case with Siphonochilus aethiopicus
is potential for growth in the medicinal plant industry if optimum cultivation technologies such as hydroponics are implemented despite
the perception that Africans have an ingrained traditional preference of wild harvested plants, on the contrary many Africans have no
issues with cultivated medicinal plants.