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Twists, turns and trade: A new look at the Indian Screw tree ( Helicteres isora )

Cunningham, A.B., Ingram, W., Brinckmann, J.A. and Nesbitt, M. (2018) Twists, turns and trade: A new look at the Indian Screw tree ( Helicteres isora ). Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 225 . pp. 128-135.

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Ethnopharmacological relevance
This is the first study of global trade in fruits of the widely used traditional medicine, Helicteres isora L.. It is used in Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani medical systems and/or local folk traditional medicines in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. The roots are used in Traditional Chinese Medicines in China and the fruits in jamu products in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, H. isora fruits are also used in "traditional" medical systems far beyond the natural distribition of this species, for example in Zulu herbal medicine (South Africa) and Kurdish herbal medicines (Iraq)

Aims of the study
This study had three aims: (i) to assess the global trade in H. isora fruits; (ii) to study the H. isora trade from West Timor to Java in terms of actors and prices along the value chain and (iii) to get a better understanding of the potential of this species to improve household income in eastern Indonesia

Materials and Methods
This study uses historical records, a contemporary analysis of global trade data (2014–2016) and field assessments of value chains and the biological factors influencing H. isora fruit production.

Globally, the major exporter of H. isora fruits is India, which exports H. isora fruits to 19 countries, far beyond the natural geographical distribution of this species. Over a 36-month period (January 2014 – December 2016), India exported 392 t of H. isora fruits, with a Free-On-Board (FOB) value of Indian rupiah (INR) 18,337,000 (US$ 274,055). This represents an average annual export quantity of about 130,526 kg/year. Over this three year period, most of these exports (85.5%) were to Indonesia (346.58 t), followed by Thailand (6.85%). Indian H. isora exports are also used in many other medical systems, including Kurdish and Zulu “traditional” medicines in Iraq and South Africa. Formation of an Indian diaspora in Bahrain, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania and Trinidad and Tobago over the past 130 years is one of the drivers of H. isora fruit trade outside the natural geographic distribution of the species. In Indonesia, demand for H. isora fruits is supplemented by an intra-island trade in Java and an inter-island trade from East Nusa Tenggara. West Timor, for example, exports around 31–37 t of air-dried H. isora fruits per year to Java. At the farm gate, local harvesters in West Timor get 4000 IDR (c. 0.3 US$) per kg, with businesses in Java paying 25000 IDR (c.US$2) per kg for H. isora fruits. This is similar to the price paid for H. isora fruits imported from India to Java.

India is the major exporter of whole dried H. isora fruits, including to countries where this species has never been in traditional use. In Indonesia, H. isora fruit extracts are used in the cosmetic industry as well as in jamu herbal medicines, including “Tolak Angin”, the country's most popular commercial “jamu” preparation. Indonesia also is the major importer of H. isora fruits from India. In eastern Indonesia, improved income to local villagers from the H. isora fruit trade could come from improved H. isora fruit quality due to better drying techniques. This would also reduce health risks along the supply chain from to mycotoxins that have been recorded on poorly dried H. isora fruits. There also is an opportunity for cultivation of H. isora in small-holder teak plantations in Indonesia, with harvest of H. isora fruits as well as the medicinal bark.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Copyright: © 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.
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