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  McCaleb and Simon present A-SNAPP progress at National Summit on Africa

The National Summit on Africa, held February 16-20, 2000 in Washington, DC, provided an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about HRF's international development venture, Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (A-SNAPP). At the Summit, Rob McCaleb and A-SNAPP partner Jim Simon, PhD, of Purdue University presented a well-received overview of the A-SNAPP project in a panel discussion entitled "Teaming Large U.S. Agribusiness with African Small Farmers: A Win-Win Situation."

During the panel session, McCaleb discussed the goals and mission of A-SNAPP, an alliance created to help develop and implement successful sustainable African natural products businesses, enhancing economic development in African rural communities. He also presented an overview of the natural products industry as it relates to Africa and to the worldwide market. McCaleb commented, "This is a business that has grown tremendously in the past five years and has brought increased trade to Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America, but Africa has been more or less left out. This is unfortunate, considering the diversity of climatic and economic conditions there. These factors really give African countries a great deal of potential for producing botanicals, both as raw materials and value-added products."

Simon's presentation focused on a number of plants under development by A-SNAPP participants, paying particular attention to a cinnamon leaf and bark essential oil project already successfully underway in Madagascar. Simon also highlighted the work accomplished with the native African plants rooibos, honeybush, and buchu. Before this work began, all of these plants were collected exclusively from the wild, but have now been brought under cultivation and are proving profitable to the farmers growing them. Simon has a wealth of experience assisting African farmers with crop development and commercialization and is co-founder of the award winning newCROP online database (www.purdue.edu/newcrop), one of the most comprehensive online sources of horticultural information on traditional and specialty crops.

McCaleb and Simon's presentation generated lively discussion among attendees at the panel session. "There was some very relevant commentary about whether the opportunities that American companies are presenting to Africa are limited to raw material products or whether they also provide the opportunity to add value and increase profit," McCaleb remarked. "We addressed the number of ways in which A-SNAPP is helping farmers to increase the value of the botanicals they produce, with a goal of improving rural income by concentrating the level of profit with the farmers as much as possible."

A-SNAPP is a collaborative project of HRF, Purdue University, and the South African Agricultural Research Council (ARC) that is made possible by a grant by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A-SNAPP is focused on promoting sustainable production of high quality African natural plant products, in order to help develop and enhance small African farms and businesses, protect threatened African plants and traditional medicine systems, improve quality of life for rural Africans, and provide a source of high-quality raw materials for the worldwide market. For more information on A-SNAPP progress, see the pygeum story on page 5. To learn more about the goals and mission of the project, visit www.herbs.org/africa

- Evelyn Leigh

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