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Opportunities for Export of Ayurvedic Products to African Countries

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Ayurveda is the most ancient system of healthcare. India’s share in the export of herbals is just 0.2% of the total global herbal market. So there is obviously vast scope for Indian manufacturers for entering the growing world wide opportunity of business in Herbal Pharmaceutical field.The world wide market of Herbal Medicines is US $ 60 billion (WHO 2002). The world health organization predicts the overall automotive medicine market to reach US $ 5 trillion by 2050. According to WHO, up to 80% of the world’s population still depend heavily on TCM for treatment.Traditional Medicines (TM) have been used by African Countries since ancient times India’s exports are much less than what they import from other countries.Africa presents 6% of ASU&H exports. Major importing countries are Kenya and Nigeria.The major objective of this study is to critically appraise the potential for herbal ayurvedic products and identify the problems and prospects of these in select African Countries


Ayurveda is the most ancient system of healthcare. India’s share in the export of herbals is just 0.2% of the total global herbal market. So there is obviously vast scope for Indian manufacturers for entering the growing world wide opportunity of business in Herbal Pharmaceutical field.Traditional Medicines (TM) have been used by African Countries since ancient times  India’s exports  are  much less than what they import from other countries. Africa presents 6% of ASU&H exports. Major importing countries are Kenya and Nigeria.  eDemand for medicinal plants is increasing in Africa as the population grows. But constraints and challenges exist at all levels.

Global Market for Traditional Medicines

The world wide market of Herbal Medicines is to US $ 60 billion (WHO 2002).  The world health organization predicts the overall automotive medicine market to reach US $ 5 trillion by 2050. Indian planning commission estimates massive increases in the export value to Rs.30 billion by 2006 and to Rs.100 billion by 2010.  Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Japan & USA are major importers of Indian Medicinal Plant Products.   Within the European Union botanical medicine represent an important share of the pharmaceutical market.In India, the value of medicinal plant related trade is about US $ 10 billion per annum and this industry is growing at the rate of 7.15% annually with exports of US $ 1.1 billion per year.


WHO (2002) Traditional and folklore medicine handed on from generation to generation is rich in household remedies and community practice. According to an estimate of World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 80% of the population of developing countries rely on traditional medicine, mostly plant drugs for their primary health care needs.
Gautam V.S (2003).  Researchers  here designed product market segmentation matrix in to four zones . They have placed Indonesia and other countries in Zone A, where Indian system of medicines is recognised as alternate source of traditional healthcare system and variety of products can be sold there.
M. DANIEL(2004)  India is on the threshold of a herbal revolution. With the rich wealth of herbs, we can command the world herbal scene. But there are so many obstacles we have to cross before we become a superpower in the herbal scene
Assocham  Report 2008  Herbal product exports can be accelerated with the setting up of EPZs in about 12 Indian states as their demand soars at a rate of over 25 percent in countries like the US, Britain, Spain, Australia, Russia and Indonesia,


The major focus of this study is to critically appraise market scenario of last 5 years and identify the  opportunities and challenges  for ayurvedic products, so as to develop a suitable strategy for export  of Ayurvedic products  to African countries


This study is supported by desk research, which includes sources like World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, Dept. of Indian System of Medicines and Homeopathy, Department. of  Commerce, Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council  their conferences and various articles and papers published in various magazines and news papers.

Table.1 India’s Total Export Ayurvedic products


Total export

In Rs.Lakhs















India export of ayurvedic products have shown an increasing trend in last fives years as evident from table 1 above which is 66.76% growth.
Source; Dept of Commerce

India Exports to African Countries

Table. 2. Export of ayurvedic products                  Values in Rs. Lacs  









































 Source;Dept.of Commerce

Data in above chart indicates that there is 196% growth in  exports to Kenya. .It has been declined in other three countries in 2007-08. Reasons for such changes may be due to changes in regulation of these countries recently.

Traditional Medicines  in African Countries


The regulation of  TM follow WHO Framework on key component of Drug Regulation with some adjustment to suit the country’s needs while on the other hand can still provide a control mechanism to protect the community from the risk of non compliance in TM products. The essential regulatory element among others s legislation .

Legislation in African Countries

Despite its existence over many centuries and its expansive use during the last decade, in most African countries, traditional medicine, including herbal medicines, has not
yet been officially recognised, and the regulation and registration of herbal medicines has not been well established. Although, in most African countries more than 80% of the population rely on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs, the governments have not yet promulgated regulation and recognition of the practice of traditional medicine. Even in countries where there is an apparent recognition, appropriate budgeting to facilitate the functioning of the Traditional Medicine Board is usually inadequate or totally lacking. In many countries in Africa, the entire traditional medicine community seems to be operating outside the framework of national legislation on the collection and trade in wild species. There is also a large inter-African trade in medicinal plants, again almost entirely outside the usual  international trade controls. There is thus a need for the formulation and development of national as well as regional policies and legislation in terms of the trade and access to these resources if maximum benefits are to be reaped in order for such policies to be successful. Many African countries do not have procedures to register medicinal plant preparations although they are widely used for the health care needs of a majority of the people. The regulations, if any, are very stringent, requiring the same standards expected of modern medicines. m o re income and thereby become more aware of the value


In the Republic of Ghana, the national policy on TM/CAM was issued in 2002. Laws and regulations on TM/CAM were issued in 1992. and the national programme in 2000.
Herbal medicines are regulated as over-the-counter medicines and as a separate regulatory category. There are 340 registered herbal medicines in Ghana; however none
is included on the national essential drug list. In Ghana, herbal medicines are sold in pharmacies as over-the-counter medicines, in special outlets and by licensed practitioners


Herbal medicines are not regulated in Kenya. There is no registration system for herbal
medicines and they are not included on the essential drug list. Herbal medicines in
Kenya are sold without restriction.


Herbal medicines are regulated as dietary supplements Health foods, Functional food as
an independent regulatory category. There is registration system and currently 107
registered herbal medicines in Nigeria, but none is listed on the essential drug list. In
Nigeria, herbal medicines are sold without restriction by licensed practitioners.

South Africa

The national policy on TM/CAM of the Republic of South Africa was
issued in 1996 as part of the National Drug Policy. No regulatory status exists for herbal
medicines, currently they are sold for self medication only. There is currently no national registration system for herbal medicines, although one is in development. In South Africa, herbal medicines are sold in pharmacies as over-the-counter medicines.

Technical Barriers
•    Lack of harmonization in safety & quality evaluation parameters and registration procedures and high registration fees for TM products in developed countries leading to prohibitive transaction costs for exporter
•    Absence of uniform drug dossier formats for registration of herbal/TM products in developed countries and insistence on multiple GMPs like US-FDA/EU GMP instead of reliance on WHOGMP.
•    Absence of harmonization & cooperation between regulatory agencies regarding
•    development of pharma monographs of medicinal plants.
•    Inadequate HS code classification for herbal substances/extracts/traditional
•    medicinal products outlets, by licensed practitioners and without restriction.


1. Prevelance of Traditional Medicines
Traditional Medicines (TM) have been used by  since ancient times and empirically passed on from generation to generation. TM have been used to maintain, and promote the human health, prevention as well as to reduce symptomatic disorders and has made great contribution to health. The use of TM  is still prominent and take an important role as an alternative to Conventional medicines.

2. Growing Market
Table 2 above shows that Kenya is growing market. .Other countries are also growing but exports declined due to restricted regulations.

3. Govt Initiatives in Export
Govt has given incentive to drug manufacturers, entrepreneurs, AYUSH Institutions etc. for Registration of their products for exports to focus countries.
•    50% of the expenditure incurred on preparation of Drug Dossiers and Registration of ASU&H products subject to a maximum limit of Rs.5.00 lakhs per product shall be provided to AYUSH units
•    Support for International Market Development and AYUSH promotion-related activities like exhibitions/ trade fairs, surveys & studies, data procurement and hiring of services of International consultants Up to Rs. 50.00 lakh
•    Sponsoring of AYUSH conferences / teaching and other collaborations with reputed institutions / universities in other countries through Indian Missions / Embassies. not exceeding Rs. 100 lakhs in one case.
•    International conferences/road shows/trade forums organized by the Department / CII / FICCI / ITPO. Up to Rs. 50.00 Lakh
•    Support for fulfillment of international commitments for transfer and networking of AYUSH technology/ regulatory information up to Rs. 25.00 Lakh.

      4. Proper Regulation of Ayurvedic Drug Industry
The Ayurvedic drug industry needs to .be properly regulated, with emphasis on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Successful companies will be those who are with sophisticated sales and marketing skills and strong financial backing. Export of traditional products after value addition should be one of our top priorities. Strategy should be directed towards the rapid validation of traditional medicine.

      5. Popularise Indian Medicines System
The second phase would fashion the Indian medicine system and terminologies in the overseas markets and popularize them, considering the mindset of users. Earnest efforts have to be put in place to consolidate the past gains of traditional knowledge base and start developing entirely new herbal preparations based on India's biodiversity and make these products available to the international community


With its vast biodiversity, India would draw world attention as a source of eco-friendly medical systems that are in harmony with the nature. While India has the knowledge, skill and resources, it has neglected the opportunities in the global markets. It has however been languishing due to inadequate care and insufficient scientific approach to its promotion. There is need for understanding of regulatory requirements of different countries and for this Government help is needed. Global opportunities for Indian Herbals are on the rise. Generation of scientific information can help in increasing global opportunities Indian companies are investing more in research to en-cash on the global opportunities We have seen that India”s Export of Ayurvedic  products is on rise. African countries are   growing market for  herbal ayurevedic  products. We can capture good share of  market if Quality control, Good Manufacturing Practices, Good agriculture Practices,, Good Clinical Practices are followed.


  • Trivedhi Rohit H. ‘Ayurveda ……… Popular around the world’ Facts for you – June 2005 Page 7, 8).
  • World Health Organization (WHO), WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005 [online]. Geneva, 2002 [cited 10 October 2003]. Portable ocument Format. Available from Internet: http://www.who.int/medicines/library/trm/trm_strat_eng.pdf.
  • Gautam V.S. 2003 in Exim bank study”Road Beyond Boundries” Quest Publications Mumbai 2003 page 26-27
  • M. DANIEL(2004 )  The Impediments Preventing India From Becoming A Herbal Gian Current Science, Vol. 87, No. 3, 10 August 2004
  • Assocham Report 2008  "Future of Herbal Exports" conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India
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