One of the strategies of the Cultivating Good Water programme is the use of medicinal plants and the maintenance of plant and cultural biodiversity in the western region of Paraná. The Medicinal Plants project was created in 2003, and headquartered in the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary, where activities range from cultivation and distribution of seedlings for the community to the production of dehydrated plants for the health units that hold partnerships with the project.

 

In addition to promoting the training of health professionals for the prescription and use of medicinal plants and herbal products in the public health system, the project also encourages the creation of municipal nurseries, organic cultivation of medicinal, aromatic and spice by family farmers, and its extraction in a sustainable way, preserving the remaining forests and creating an economically viable alternative to diversify small farms.

 

A - General Information

 

START: June 2003 (in progress)

EXECUTING ENTITY: ITAIPU Binational

PARTNERSHIPS: ACIENS – Association of the Integrated Education, Nature and Health Centre; YANTEN – Yanten Popular Health Centre; UNIOESTE – State University of Western Paraná; UNIPAR – The University of Paraná; FIOCRUZ – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation; MDA – Ministry of Agrarian Development; MS – Ministry of Health; Councils of the Paraná III Basin; SUSTENTEC – Associated Producers for the Development of Sustainable Technologies; GRAN LAGO – Gran Lago Cooperative of Organic Producers; UFPR – Federal University of Paraná Campus Palotina – PR; UNIAMÉRICA – Union of the Americas College; ANGLO AMERICANO – Anglo American College; ABFIT – Brazilian Phytotherapy Association; ECOVIDA – Ecovida Agroecology Network

PRESENTED BY: Lisiane Kadine 

RESOURCES: Own and third-party resources

CATEGORY: Projects

MAIN THEMATIC AREA: Agriculture

KEY WORDS: Medicinal Plants, Phytotherapy, Unified Health System, Family Agriculture, Cultivating Good Water, ITAIPU Binacional

TARGET PUBLIC: Farmers, healthcare professionals, academic community, indigenous communities, quilombolas, agrarian reform settlers, pastorals, mothers’ clubs and community in general.

LOCATION: Conservation Unit (Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary)

GEOGRAPHIC COVERAGE: Micro regional

MUNICIPALITIES OF THE MICRO REGION: Altônia, Cascavel, Diamante do Oeste, Entre Rios do Oeste, Foz do Iguaçu, Guaíra, Itaipulândia, Marechal Cândido Rondon, Céu Azul, Maripá, Matelândia, Medianeira, Mercedes, Missal, Nova Santa Rosa, Ouro Verde do Oeste, Pato Bragado, Palotina, São José das Palmeiras, Quatro Pontes, Ramilândia, Santa Helena, Santa Tereza do Oeste, Santa Terezinha de Itaipu, São Miguel do Iguaçu, São Pedro do Iguaçu, Terra Roxa, Toledo, Vera Cruz do Oeste (municipalities of western Paraná) and Mundo Novo (MS).

SPECIFIC IMPLEMENTATION AREA: Since 2003 the Medicinal Plants project has been encouraging the use of phytotherapy in healthcare and the adoption of the National Policy of Medicinal Plants and Phytotherapy by the municipalities of the Hydrographical Basin of River Paraná III (P3B). The medicinal plants produced in the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary are provided free-of-charge to the healthcare units of the municipalities, where they are prescribed to patients by qualified professionals.

 

  

B - Practice Description

 

1- BACKGROUND

In 2003, given the profound political changes that were occurring in Brazil, Itaipu Binacional shifted its strategic mission and started to incorporate the sustainable development of its region of influence as one of the company objectives. This led to the creation of the Cultivating Good Water (in Portuguese, Cultivando Água Boa) programme, which targets the promotion of new ways of production and consumption in the surrounding communities in order to protect water and natural resources.

At ITAIPU Binacional, some employees had already put some of the initiatives to rescue popular wisdom on the use of typical medicinal plants of the region into practice. These initiatives were incorporated and extended by the Cultivating Good Water programme because they were aligned with the programme objectives. Moreover, the cultivation and use of medicinal plants is linked to the preservation of health, the fight against hunger, income generation and maintaining biodiversity.

One of the key strategies was to rally institutions and organized communities of the region that execute similar actions in order to build the project. Project implementation was based on a strategy that covered the entire production chain of medicinal plants, from production to use, supported by a new sustainable matrix that connected the different initiatives.

In 2005, a regional survey was conducted where around 2500 people were interviewed to collect data on the use of medicinal plants by the population of the P3B. This research helped to establish a regional profile on the use of medicinal species, which plants were most frequently used, the most frequent diseases, the origin of use and the overall knowledge on the subject.

 

2- OVERALL GOAL

To educate, study, develop, cultivate, benefit, market and distribute medicinal and aromatic species and spices to produce technological and scientific results, and collaborate with the implementation of the National Policy of Medicinal Plants and Phytotherapy in the municipalities of the P3B, thus providing the population with safe access and rational use of medicinal plants, while promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity and the development of a production chain with the local actors.

 

Specific Objectives:

  • To foster the production and use of medicinal plants in the municipalities of the P3B;
  • To support the education of healthcare professionals in phytotherapy;
  • To promote the production of medicinal plants as an alternative for diversification and the generation of income for family farms;
  • To include family agriculture in the production chain of medicinal plants;
  • To stimulate agroecological practices;
  • To support research and the implementation of medicinal plant programmes and projects in the municipalities.

  

3 - ADOPTED SOLUTION

The following activities were performed to reach the programme objectives:

a) Production and management of Medicinal Plants in the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary

  • Maintenance of a germplasm bank (in situ and ex situ);
  • Cultivation of native and adapted medicinal plants;
  • Sustainable management through the organic cultivation of medicinal species;
  • Propagation of native and adapted medicinal species;
  • Operation of the medicinal plant Processing Unit, with a built-up area of 200 m², for selecting, cleaning, drying and packaging, quality control and storage of the product, and assembly of the kit with medicinal plants for treating the most common diseases in the region.

b) Implementation of medicinal plant use in the municipalities of the P3B

  • Donation of medicinal plant seedlings to farmers, universities and communities in areas surrounding the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary;
  • Provision of medicinal plants to the Unified Health System;
  • Support for the implementation of medicinal plant programmes and projects in the municipalities;
  • Education for healthcare professionals, especially for the teams of the Family Health Programme (PSF), by means of courses on prescribing and using medicinal plants and phytotherapy substances in the public health network;
  • The provision of basic courses on the correct use of medicinal plants, food and nutritional security, the reuse of vegetables, hygiene and basic sanitation for community associations, schools, day-care centres, mothers’ clubs, pastoral representatives, indigenous communities, quilombolas and settlers;
  • Environmental education for several target users. Ecopedagogy allows the programme to present the culture, tradition and popular knowledge on the subject of medicinal plants to children, youths and adults.
  • Support research with medicinal plants.

c) Inclusion of Family Agriculture in the production chain of medicinal plants

  • Donation of medicinal plant seedling to farmers;
  • Encouraging the use of agroecological practices in medicinal plant production;
  • Education for farmers on cultivating and processing medicinal plants, and the promotion of free, quality technical assistance and rural extension;
  • Fostering the formation of associations and cooperatives;
  • Facilitating access of small-scale farmers to the institutional market and other trade channels.

Project actions are performed through partnerships that involve the local government, farmers, healthcare professionals, researchers, universities, indigenous communities, quilombolas, agrarian reform settlers, pastorals, associations and the community in general.

 

4 - RESULTS

a) Training for more than 12 thousand people, including healthcare professionals, lunch ladies and farmers;

b) Around 90 species produced in the nursery, and the donation of more than 270 thousand seedlings for implementing productive areas, plant gardens, and for conducting scientific work. In the herbary (medicinal plant processing unit), a total of 28 plant species were processed;

c) Since the start of practice implementation, 142 medicinal plant gardens have been created at schools, churches, pastorals, settlements and indigenous communities;

d) Since 2007, more than 1600 Kg of medicinal plants have been donated to complement the treatment of patients at 50 healthcare units of the P3B;

e) Ten events were held to discuss subjects linked to medicinal plants and phytotherapy, attended by 1920 people;

f) In 2009, a Gran Lago Cooperative was created, composed of 24 families of farmers of the P3B that produce medicinal plants. This cooperation allowed the development and installation of 6 medicinal plant driers for regional farmers.

 

5 - NECESSARY RESOURCES

The project has 10 collaborators, namely a nursery grower, three machine operators, three machine operators, a supervisor, a pharmacists and an agronomist. The size of area used to propagate, cultivate and process the plants is 1.5 ha. For seedling production, the project has a nursery of 400 m² with a sprinkler irrigation system. The seedling production, the project also has a sprinkler irrigation system, farming tools and a micro tractor. The herbary (Processing Unit) has specific reception, selection, drying and quarantine areas, a packaging room, a storage room and an office. The project also has a hatch-back vehicle for internal and external activities.

 

 

6 - TRANSFER

The project is frequently visited by representatives of municipalities in all of Brazil who are interested in obtaining information and replicating project activities. The visits are scheduled on request of the institutions and municipalities interested in the project. The visitors can learn more about the entire process, from seedling production to medicinal plant processing.

Based on their support of this practice, the municipalities of Iguassu Falls, Toledo, Pato Bragado and Vera Cruz do Oeste have already received resources from the Federal Government (Ministry of Health) to implement similar projects. Other municipalities, such as Santa Terezinha de Itaipu, Itaipulândia and Missal received dehydrated medicinal plants to be used in healthcare units.

In 2013, a technical cooperation agreement was signed by the Ministry of Agrarian Development and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation with the main objective of supporting education and qualification for the cultivation, production and processing of medicinal plants, and technical assistance for the production chain.

 

7 - LESSONS LEARNED

The main contributions to the success of this project are the existence of institutions that have already worked with medicinal plants in the region, the creation of the National Policy and Programme of Medicinal Plants and Phytotherapy, investments of the Ministry of Health (in the first notice published by the Ministry of Health in 2012, three municipalities of the P3B were contemplated, totalling BRL 2.1 million for structuring the production chain in the municipalities). 

Another contribution was how the project was initially put together, with all the actors of the chain, from the farmers to the end consumer.

To disseminate the project in the region, several meetings were held and extensive training was offered to healthcare professionals, farmers and the community in general. The environmental educators who participated in the process of qualifying environmental educators are important replicators of the activities and content of the medicinal plant project in the municipalities in which they work. The Sustainable Rural Development Programme - DRS - supported by the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension agreement - ATER - in the region is responsible for providing technical assistance to family farmers and the cooperative.

One of the main obstacles was the lack of knowledge on phytotherapy of the healthcare professionals and public officials of the regional councils. Despite the extensive training process for healthcare professionals, the turnover of these professionals is quite high, especially in small municipalities, which hinders the retention of the exposed knowledge. In relation to municipal officials, meetings are held at the start of every government term with all the managers and representatives (Secretaries) of the municipalities, during which information on how to adopt medicinal plants is transferred. However, it is still difficult to establish a genuine level of adherence of this public to the project.

 

 

Scheduled visits are available all year round.

Number of visitors: from 01 to 20.

 

Attachments:
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