Abstract

Background: Medicinal plants (MPs) are widely accepted and used in most rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond to treat and control village chicken (VC) diseases and parasites. They are readily available, accessible and cheap. Moreover, they are nature friendly and have adapted to the local environment, making them easy to produce. Over and above, their use has health benefits for consumers. Little is known about the opportunities and challenges faced when commercialising these MPs.Aim: It is imperative to unpack the opportunities and challenges that are encountered while commercialising MPs used for treating VC diseases and controlling parasites. Despite these multiple benefits, the commercialisation of these plants seems to be under researched. In South Africa, different rural communities use various MPs in their locality. For instance, most rural families in South Africa are using Aloe ferox, Helichrysum petiolare, Tagetes minuta, Lippia javanica, Agave sisalana, Gunnera perpensa and Millettia grandis. Conspicuously, not much is known about the efforts made to commercialise these products.Method: Through a systematic review of the literature, this paper unpacks the trends, opportunities and challenges faced in commercialising MPs used to treat VC disease and control parasites.Results: Results have revealed that globally MPs for VC management are not widely recognised, despite their wide usage by local communities. If properly harnessed, they have the potential to strengthen local economic development through income generation. However, currently, little is derived from the sale of these products because of the presence of middlemen. Their commercialisation efforts are hampered by the lack of organised support systems and networks, lack of regularisation strategies and clear criteria for supporting quality, protection and presumed efficiency.Conclusion: By commercialising MPs, local farmers can exploit MPs beyond the village chickens to broiler and layer chickens, thus offering alternative chicken health and affordable medicinal options for the farmers.Contribution: The study contributes to understanding the available opportunities and challenges in commercialising MPs used for village chicken health management. It further demonstrates that MPs for village health can be used to transform the livelihoods of the custodians of these plants.

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