Introduction

1.1 Until the early days of the 19th century, medicinal plants and herbs were the exclusive source of active substances capable of curing humanís illness. Despite the huge progress in production of synthetic drugs, hundreds of species are still recognized as the source for pharmaceutical ingredients. Medicinal and herbal plants continued to be vital to people that do not have access to modern medicine. Even in modern countries people are demanding more and more natural medicinal and herbal plants products and formulations due to awareness "back to the nature".

1.2 Herbs are used increasingly as culinary diets while natural aromatic derivit ives are being used as additives in nutrition and for formulation of fragrance and cosmetic products. The trade of medicinal, herbal and aromatic plants and their extracts is increasing world wide and demanding immense supplies.

1.3 Major supply of medicinal herbs come from intensive harvesting of wild stocks, which causes serious threats to biodiversity of medicinal and herbal plant resources in the world and especially in the region. Plant genetic resources in general are facing other threats of overgrazing and urbanization. It requires concerted efforts to conserve and preserve these valuable resources.

1.4 There is little coordination between research institutions, governmental agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and other organization dealing with environment, natural resources and agriculture in terms of conservation and utilization of medicinal plants and herbs.

1.5 While other cash crops have received adequate attention and support, the production of these exceptionally promising generators of income and for human well-being are left to languish. There is insufficient knowledge of agricultural production, industrial processing, the economics and the associated marketing problems of indigenous medicinal and herbal plants in the developing countries and especially in the region. It is believed that inadequate knowledge about indigenous plant production and associated markets constrained both cultivation initiatives and institutional support for such initiatives. The lack of information and information sharing has prevented individuals, organizations and government bodies assessing opportunities in cultivating indigenous medicinal plants for the market.
1.6 Consequently, much research and research collaboration is needed to make recommendations for the cultivation, processing and marketing of indigenous medicinal plants since behaviors of medicinal and aromatic plants under different growth conditions are poorly under stud and not well documented (Letchumo and Gosselin, 1996).