China is facing a shortage of herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine due to soaring demand and lack of seeds, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Annual demand for medicinal herbs had reached 600,000 tonnes, four times that of a decade ago, and the sector has become an $11 billion industry, it said in a report seen on Friday.
“The demand for natural medicinal herbs has been boosted by improved awareness of health and healthcare in an aging society,” it quoted deputy Health Minister She Jing as telling a conference in the southwestern city of Nanning.
But less than 200,000 hectares of herbs were farmed in 2004, some 70,000 hectares less than in 2003, the report said, “because of the lack of supply of wild seeds”.
To sustain demand, at least 340,000 hectares of land was needed, Xinhua said.
Revision date: July 6, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD