Skip to content

Cultivation of medicinal plants – Market, Trade and Tips

you can read this

Setting up a medicinal plant cultivation

Opening a medicinal plant farm can be an excellent business opportunity and a great income opportunity, in an area where you see a great demand from customers.

The article consists of three parts, in the first part we will see what medicinal plants are under Spanish law, in the second part we will see how to grow medicinal plants, while in the third and final part we will see how to start a successful medicinal plant cultivation.

You have here the main and best health businesses

The market for medicinal plants

The field of medicinal plants is growing due to the renewed public interest in a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet.

In such a context, it is excellent to start a business dedicated to the agricultural production of medicinal plants for human health. The increase in domestic demand occurred in recent years so it is covered 70% in foreign imports, especially from countries where labor is cheaper. Given the strong demand, Spanish production is very slow due to competition from abroad. Despite the difficulties, a farmer with strong links to the area has a good opportunity to sell produce “made in Spain”.

Medicinal plants

The term “medicinal plants” enters the Spanish legislation, as a result of a 1979 law still in force, in which they were legally named for the first time.

The plants were designated as “herbs” to indicate that the processes are carried out in the laboratory. In fact, to obtain the properties and use, the plants undergo processing such as drying, distillation and maceration.

Obviously, the use of medicinal plants does not begin with the enactment of the 1973 law, but is much more ingrained in time, where the first reported uses are derived from antiquity.

If you like history, you know that the first document in which the use of medicinal plants is a Egyptian papyrus dated 2,500 years before Christ.

From an agronomic point of view, medicinal herbs are composed of a large and heterogeneous group of plant species that are in turn classified into “medicinal plants”, “aromatic” and “essence plants”.

Each medicinal plant has within it substances with active ingredients that can be used for many purposes. Within each species you will look for another type of active ingredient present, i.e. biologically active substances in the human body.

These molecules belong to chemical classes such as alkaloids, glycosides, gums, tannins, organic acids, enzymes, vitamins, resins, balsams and essential oils.

Depending on the type of drug present, various techniques can be employed aimed at extracting the principle of use. Indeed, many herbs have within them different active ingredients with different properties, both curative and aromatic.

Setting up a medicinal plant cultivation

What are the commercial medicinal plants?

Given the great variety, not all medicinal herbs have the same potential from a commercial point of view. Only a small part of the species are known and widely marketed.

However, in a changing market, a diligent entrepreneur should have the opportunity to grow plants that are little known and differentiate themselves from the competition.

A good strategy is to associate a number of traditional niche plant species that are little known.

In Europe there are 36,000 active farms involved in the cultivation of medicinal plants for a total of more than 200,000 hectares of cultivated land. In Spain, companies are active on approximately 3,000.

To the untrained eye these figures may seem high, while in truth they reveal that the industry is still small and underdeveloped. Companies involved in the cultivation of medicinal plants range from small to large in size.

The world’s largest producer of medicinal plants in the world is India which plays an important role in many productions. Other important countries in terms of quantity are China, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey. At the European level, the strongest nations are Bulgaria and Germany.

Each plant has the biological characteristics that make its production easier in some countries than in others. In Spain there are about 200 species of medicinal plants.

Let us look at the 24 most important species from the point of view of economic life in Spain.

Red Vine
Marian thistle
Passiflora incarnate
The sweet-smelling clover
Echinacea angustifolia

How to start a medicinal plant cultivation

Remember, you can activate a medicinal plant crop without spending large amounts of capital if you sell

the product in order to learn cultivation techniques.
In fact, before thinking about business projects, it is best to become experts in agriculture; each plant has its ecological characteristics that must be observed in the laboratory from an economic and commercial perspective.
Once you acquire the necessary technical knowledge, you will analyze the companies in the target market and contact them that might be interested in your products.
If you live in a suitable area, you can also focus on selling your products directly through a direct sales outlet.
From a bureaucratic point of view, you can choose to open a farm by becoming a professional farmer or an empirical farmer. The choice will largely depend on your goals and ambitions for the future.
For the development of the agricultural sector, Europe and the Spanish regions release a series of specific funding for rural development in our country.

The business of medicinal plants in Spain offers a lot of work and development, but first you have to interact with the various actors in the field and get the full range of direct information on the ground necessary for professional growth.

Requirements for the cultivation of medicinal plants

First of all, have a space large enough to establish the crop, so you can cultivate different medicinal plants for multiple purposes, if you are starting and do not have much money to buy a large space you can start from home with smaller crops, so you can start and expand the business.

Knowledge but not certification is required to establish this type of business, so training in medicinal plants and classic or innovative agricultural methods should be sought, complementing as much as possible the knowledge needed to master this business widely.

Advantages of having a medicinal plant cultivation

The business of health is extremely necessary for modern society, among these the natural medicine that many prefer over the common medicines sold in pharmacies, many say that medicinal plants can become more effective in treating specific diseases than the common medicine.

This can represent a significant influx of customers who are in search of supplements or medicines of natural origin, which can represent very good margins and continuity for your business, also depending on the market need can constantly modify the areas of cultivation to meet demand, making this business a fairly dynamic model in terms of production, ie you can grow any plant if you have the conditions for it.

Tips for setting up a medicinal plant cultivation

Always surround yourself with agile and competent farmers in the matter, in this way you can constantly learn how to manage the business and the infinity of existing techniques for the cultivation of medicinal plants, besides having the sufficient resources it is recommended to establish different climatic floors to cultivate a greater number of sepas that need a higher and colder climate model.

In addition, it is highly recommended to build a nursery for the small plants, so that they can be attended more easily and to create the necessary humidity conditions to stimulate the growth of different cuttlefish from their most fragile and youngest state.

Problems that can arise in the cultivation of medicinal plants

If you do not have extensive and effective knowledge for the cultivation, many mistakes can be made, as a consequence the cultivation may not come out on time causing income problems for the business. Moreover, this model depends a lot on the seasons and specific conditions to be able to cultivate the specific medicinal plant so if you do not have the necessary conditions the plant may not grow well or not develop at all.

The business progresses according to the amount of plants that are grown and sold, so if you do not have a large enough space the business can present problems to prosper at the desired speed, this means that if you are working in a small space is difficult to devote full time to this model.

Success stories 

A successful company in this sector is Soria Natural, created in 1982, significantly changing the market for medicinal plants. Its creator has advanced the company by testing, going little by little and seeing what happens. The whole company is the result of this way of managing since, since the beginning of the business, it always launched new products, such as biological food.