Exploring Medicinal Plants

Eighth annual Agroforestry Symposium a big success

More than 300 guests attended the eighth annual Agroforestry Symposium on Thursday, Jan. 26, at the Bond Life Sciences Building on the University of Missouri campus.

The symposium, sponsored by the MU Center for Agroforestry, focused on medicinal plants in agroforestry and was titled, “Enhancing Health, Conservation and Livelihoods: Medicinal Plants in Agroforestry.”

The symposium was also broadcasted live, reaching viewers all around the world.

“The annual Agroforestry Symposium is an opportunity to bring together leading researchers and practitioners to explore in-depth and showcase a compelling agroforestry-related theme,” said Gregory Ormsby Mori, Center for Agroforestry outreach coordinator.

Tom Newmark, President of the Board of Trustees of the American Botanical Council, gave the keynote presentation, focusing on making the case for medicinal plants in agroforestry. His talk highlighted both the diverse range of medicinal plants as well as the many environmental benefits from growing medicinal plants in sustainable agroforestry. Newmark was one of several speakers from across the United States to speak at the symposium.

Lloyd Sumner, Metabolomics Center, University of Missouri, presents during the Agroforestry Symposium on Jan. 26. Lloyd Sumner, Metabolomics Center, University of Missouri, presents during the Agroforestry Symposium on Jan. 26.

The symposium also featured three University of Missouri presentations, from Lloyd Sumner, Metabolomics Center; Chung-Ho Lin, Center for Agroforestry; and Bill Folk, biochemistry. Sumner discussed metabolomics opportunities and application in pecans. Lin dived into identifying value-added, health-promoting compounds from waste plant materials. Folk talked about possible international partnerships for medicinal plant management and development.

“People have been using herbal remedies for thousands of years,” said Shibu Jose, director of the Center for Agroforestry. “Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning to medicinal plants for new drugs. A recent report indicates that the global market for all natural medicine and herbal supplements could reach up to $115 billion by 2020. The growing market presents a great opportunity for landowners to cultivate these medicinal plants in forest farming and in other agroforestry practices.”

A panel of medicinal plant growers and entrepreneurs discussed the market opportunities and challenges as well. The members of the panel discussed their experiences with growing medicinal plants, sustainable sourcing of plants for the industry, and value adding and marketing of products.

Phyllis Hannan, a grower of organic medicinal plants from Hermann, Mo., shared her experience in starting a business from the ground up during the panel session.

“It was absolutely fantastic to be part of the symposium,” Hannan said. “I was glad to share my story with the group.

“It was a great event. This was the first time I’ve attended the symposium, and I was really impressed with all of the presentations. I learned a lot.”

For more information about the Center for Agroforestry’s annual Agroforestry Symposia and to view presentations from all past symposia, please visit: http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/events/symposia.php.

For a closer look at the Agroforestry Symposium, visit CAFNR’s Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafnr/albums/72157679642459295/with/32512350026/.