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The Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Programme in Asia (MAPPA) was initiated in 1998 with support from the Ford Foundation and builds on the experiences and research results of IMPN. MAPPA is a programme of strategic research, networking, and collaboration to comprehensively address critical research issues related to the sustainable and equitable use of medicinal and aromatic plants in South Asia.  Through collaboration and partnerships, and based on a regional approach, MAPPA aims to formulate programmes which will complement and build on related research and development activities in the region.

MAPPA's Goal
To enhance the quality of life of poor and disadvantaged people in the uplands and protect the fragile eco-regions of South Asia and the HKH countries

To develop, provide, and promote good and appropriate practices, critical information, sound technologies, ethical trade and enterprise activities, conservation and development solutions, and institutionalise these to benefit women, poor, indigenous people, and the environment

To enhance the sustainable and equitable commercialisation, strategies and technologies, and improved options for safe and effective health care through:

  • Development of strategies, viable options, approaches, and methods through research that will balance conservation with subsistence use, and commercial demands;
  • Enhancement of the quality and market gains through organic production, local value-addition, enterprise development, and improved market information and access, for increased income generation at the local level;
  • Provision of improved options for safe and effective primary health care by strengthening MAP-based traditional healing practices;  
  • Collaboration and information sharing among countries of South Asia and the HKH region in developing appropriate MAP-based conservation and livelihood improvement strategies; and
  • Networking support by facilitating communication, coordination, collaboration, and information dissemination among stakeholders.

The  Regional Approach

MAPPA is a special programme that promotes problem solving research and development with an extensive regional focus covering Asia. This regional network approach is critical for a number of reasons:

  • Species distribution and ecological boundaries do not always coincide with political boundaries;
  • Exchange of raw products involves a number of transboundary transactions based on historically established trading links and kith-and-kin relationships (family, ethnic, and socially-based networks); 
  • Regional collaboration for effective implementation of  international covenants relating to biodiversity, and trade and the sustainable use of MAP resources.

MAPPA's Research Strategy

Through strategic research, collaboration, and networking, MAPPA plans to develop strategies, methods, and options for sustainable conservation and use of MAP resources. The research program covers four principal themes:

  • Conservation of biodiversity through sustainable use,
  • Expansion of livelihood opportunities, 
  • Safe and effective traditional medicine system for primary health care, and
  • Networking to facilitate communication and collaboration.

Conservation of biodiversity through sustainable use, by promoting sustainable management and genetic conservation schemes at the community level:

  • Target important species, especially those which are rare and/or endangered, and develop appropriate methods to re-stock natural and domesticated plant supplies
  • Develop and value-add gender sensitive technologies and practices for the sustainable conservation, harvesting, and cultivation of  targeted species
  • Design sustainable conservation and use strategies that balance conservation needs with ideal domestic and commercial demands
  • Establish local, state, and national policies for community-based conservation and sustainable management, as well as appropriate and workable implementation mechanisms

Expansion of livelihood opportunity, by developing innovative strategies to ensure a more equitable distribution of benefits, especially between impoverished upland and mountain dwellers and indigenous communities: 

  • Develop and provide training for value-addition activities such as improved storage, primary processing, and packaging and marketing of MAP products among rural communities 
  • Emphasise improving collection, cultivation, and marketing conditions and benefits for women 
  • Develop and realise bio-partnerships between local communities and industry, fostering a more balanced division of benefits between these groups to ensure long-term sustainable conservation strategies 
  • Carry out gender analysis of MAP activities including harvesting, production, and exchange of selected species and their derived products 
  • Influence both national and local policies and their timely and suitable reforms, institutional mechanisms that can provide more incentives for conservation and cultivation, and local control over resources and increased benefits to the rural poor

Safe and effective traditional medicine system as a means of safe and effective health care that can fulfill the primary health care needs of the rural poor, by increasing access to, and use of, MAPs:

  • Assess the effects MAP commercialisation has had on local health systems
  • Develop ways to understand local health care needs as well as approaches to improve the delivery of safe, effective, and affordable health care to communities 
  • Emphasise the documentation and use of local and gender-focused MAP-based knowledge and practices in order to improve their overall acceptance, value, and use 
  • Develop appropriate policies and laws to support the use of medicinal plants to meet primary health care needs, particularly for the rural poor

Networking to facilitate communication and collaboration 

  • Promote networking at all levels among key actors involved in medicinal plants R & D. The goal is to increase the exchange of information, collaboration, and coordination of activities 
  •  Identify ways to reach the diversity of MAP interest groups, recognising the skewed access to information and communication technologies 
  • Promote discussion among interest groups, especially encouraging the private sector, health care professionals, conservationists, and government representatives

Identified research areas include local conservation methods, sustainable and equitable commercialisation strategies and technologies, and improved options for safe and effective health care systems.  Research activities will strive to complement and build on ongoing research, to more comprehensively addressed research problems, generate more effective research results, and accomplish greater impacts.

Key Features of MAPPA projects

  • Promotes participatory NRM research
  • Integrates research with action
  • Supports learning systems
  • Develops management approach to project activities
  • Links micro-impacts to macro-level development
  • Up-scales research efforts

Information Dissemination and Networking

MAPPA is dedicated to the quick and appropriate dissemination of research information. In collaboration with the Foundation for the Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), MAPPA publishes a quarterly newsletter (Medplant Network News) to relate its activities to partners and support groups. MAPPA also publishes research reports, technical papers, and proceedings of its meetings. It plans to publish tool kits, manuals, and guidelines, preferably in local languages, to disseminate information at the grassroots level. MAPPA encourages networking through bi-annual meetings, as well as information sharing through Internet networks and among researchers.

Programme Administration

Currently, MAPPA is a sub-programme under the Agriculture and Rural Income Diversification (ARID) Programme of ICIMOD and works within the overall ICIMOD mandate of poverty alleviation and environmental conservation in the Hindu Kush Himalayas under its Medium Term Action Plan (MTAP, 2003-2007).
Working with MAPPA 

  • MAPPA periodically invites MAP-focused research and development proposals from relevant NGOs, government organisations, research institutes, foundations, community-based organisations (CBOs), and academic institutions and universities. 
  • Individual researchers, scientists, and academicians are also eligible to apply, with the endorsement of their institutions, for project support for a maximum of two years on a proposed research or development activity within the scope and nature of MAPPA. 
  • Proposals are reviewed by a MAPPA Committee, which includes representation from MAPPA partners, and selected based on relevance of the research topic, novelty of methods proposed, and the application potential of  the study results.
  • Proposal guidelines and funding information are available on request. Initially, submission of a concise proposal outlining the proposed research agenda, methodology, required funds, expected results, and applicability of the results is recommended.

© ICIMOD 2007. All Rights Reserved.
MAPPA is a network of development partners hosted by ICIMOD and supported by IDRC, The Ford Foundation and IFAD.
G.P.O. Box: 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal Tel: 977 -1 - 5003222, Fax: 977 -1 - 5003299, 5003277 Email:
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