Interview with the manager of the department of cultivation technologies of the Research Station of Medicinal Plants in the Institute of Agroecology and Environmental Management of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine Hubanyov Oleksandr Heorhiyovych.
1. In USSR a great number of resources were assigned to medicinal plants raw material cultivation. This tendency has not been preserved in independent Ukraine. How do you think why?
Yes, indeed, in the Soviet Union there was a state program aimed at the supplying of the population with home-produced medicines prepared on the base of medicinal plants raw material. In that system there were two directions: scientific supplying – VILAR, the All-Union Scientific Institute of Medicinal and Aroma Plants, located in Moscow as well as around 12 another research stations, and raw material producers – “Soyuzlekrasprom”, the All-Union Medicinal Plants Industrial Enterprise.
At present there is no state program in Ukraine designed for supplying pharmaceutical enterprises with medicinal plants raw material and, in fact, there are no state agricultural enterprises dealing with cultivation of this raw material (except for the three small enterprises in Lubny, Sumy and Chernihiv). The only scientific enterprise dealing nowadays with designing of modern cultivation technologies for the most popular kinds of raw material, medicinal plants growing as well as with some ecological problems is represented by the Research Station of Medicinal Plants (in the village of Berezotocha, Lubny) where I work. So, if there is no program, the government does not assign any money for it. It is obvious that they do not think about it and are not interested in having cheap home-produced pharmaceutical products (prepared on the base of medicinal plants raw material).
2. In which regions of Ukraine is medicinal plants raw material cultivation most developed?
Today the fastest development of medicinal plants raw material cultivation and manufacturing is observed in the regions of western Ukraine. A bit earlier it could be observed in the Crimea where there were around 10-12 enterprises.
3. Why do other enterprises fall behind?
The southern region of Ukraine has a possibility of cultivation only under condition of constant water supplies in the area (drip irrigation or rains), in the central part of Ukraine most areas are absorbed by large agricultural holding companies aimed at cultivation of macrocultures. Although, in these latter days some small farming enterprises start bringing some kinds of medicinal plants under cultivation.
4. What are the most profitable cultures?
The most profitable are those of the rooted group like valeriana, coneflower, skullcap, burdock, dandelion… But there are some other kinds that are also quite popular. They are pepper mint, goat’s rue, melis, salvia and some other.
5. Which cultures are the least hard-driving in technological sense?
In the process of cultivation the least hard-driving (as compared to other species) are camomile and marigold.
6. How do you assess the saturation of medicinal plants raw material market?
According to the conducted analysis and research of the medicinal plants raw material market (concerning both cultivated and wild-growing plants) as well as to the demand of pharmaceutical enterprises, food and perfume industries the market is filled for more than 60-65%. Sometimes the problem consists in acute shortage or oversupply of certain kinds of medicinal plants raw material. That is why when cultivating medicinal plants one should definitely consult specialists who can give advice as for the short-term strategy of medicinal plants raw material demand and realization.
7. How do you assess the effects of the loss of the Crimea on Ukrainian market of medicinal plants raw material?
Crimean enterprises were mostly focused on cultivation of essential-oil species (taking into account the climatic peculiarities of the region), so it will be possible to build up the necessary production levels in 1-2 years.
8. Are there any plants that could substitute the Crimean species?
Except for some particular plants like lavender, rose, clary sage, it is entirely possible.
Interviewed by V. V. Tiutiunnyk, September 2014.