With the experience of more than two decades of sustained work, and good prospects for increasing areas under cultivation, Pinar del Río continues to expand its production of medicinal plants.
Lérida Sánchez Díaz, specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture’s provincial office, explained that work is currently underway on a project to expand the farm dedicated to this activity.
The plan is to increase the current six or seven hectares under cultivation to 30, with the addition of irrigation systems and other equipment to help meet the national demand for such natural medicines, and move toward developing possible exports.
The official reported that also planned is the expansion of the two mountain farms currently existent in the municipalities of de Minas de Matahambre and La Palma, where the climate is particularly appropriate for many of these plants.
At the request of the Ministry of Public Health, a total of 31 different species of medicinal plants are grown in the province, to produce syrups, ointments, tinctures, and capsules for multiple purposes, ranging from fighting off a cold to lowering cholesterol.
Production this year is expected to reach around 46 tons of raw material, to be delivered to the pharmaceutical industry in Pinar del Río and other provinces around the country, a considerable figure when considering that the majority of the leaves, flowers, and roots harvested weigh very little, reduced even further during the dehydration process.
According to Sánchez, among the species in greatest demand are chamomile, turmeric, ginger, oregano, and aloe vera.
She recalled that the Public Health system’s natural and traditional medicine program was initiated in the early 1990s on the proposal of Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, with the purpose of taking the place of certain medications that were scarce at the time, during the Special Period after the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
Since then, the effort has produced many products to take the place of some which must be imported, and are unavailable at times, but furthermore, the program has gained wide acceptance within the population, thanks to the proven effectiveness of these natural medicines.