Enhancing conservation and access to medicinal plants in Peru

Seed-banking of native medicinal plants from the highlands of Moquegua, Peru.

Limestone hills in Peru with large patch of green plants

An estimated 80 per cent of the Peruvian population depend on medicinal plants for their healthcare. However, the botanical identification and scientific evaluation of plants in use by healers is localised and rarely accessible to communities.

This project will strengthen the botanical programme of the Intercultural Health Centre (CENSI), within the National Institute of Health INS, by initiating a seed bank for wild medicinal plants as a central resource for the researchers at the botanic garden and herbarium, underpinning CENSI’s work nationwide with traditional medicine practitioners. Seed banking specialists from Kew will provide training to 16 Peruvian scientists to adopt international MSB Partnership standards for the collection, preservation and quality assessment of seeds, and will provide support for the analysis of seeds in key research areas. Consultations with a leading community in the sierra of Moquegua Department will be followed by expeditions to provide documented germplasm collections to the new seed bank, with the purpose of long term conservation, research and propagation.

The project will also review the current Peruvian legal, policy and administrative regime and propose facilitated mechanisms to develop future conservation & research projects that include seed banking of medicinal plants. In combination this project will establish a scientific platform within CENSI for greater access and use of named, tested, viable seed collections of priority medicinal plants, to assist practitioners and support livelihoods in the communities that depend on them.

  1. Build scientific capacity for the collection, conservation and use of genetic resources from wild medicinal plants. This objective will establish essential seed bank equipment and knowledge at CENSI to strengthen the botanical programme, already underway through botanic garden and herbarium units.
  2. Improve access to medicinal plant materials in support of propagation and research & at community level. A community dialogue will be established to identify priorities and opportunities for enhanced access to medicinal plant materials. Targeted research will reveal the desiccation tolerance of seeds, assess the viability of seed collections, and test the longevity of the seeds in conventional storage conditions for priority medicinal plants.
  3. Identify improved mechanisms for the effective implementation of research projects on conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants. A review will be provided to stakeholders on the current legal, policy and administrative regime and propose improved mechanisms.

Newton Fund, through the Institutional Links call implemented by the British Council.


National Center of Intercultural Health, Perú

Dr Félix Valenzuela Ore
Ivonne Fanny Reyes Mandujano
Jesús Tomás Silva Alarcón
Jorge Cabrera Meléndez


Dr Daniel Bernardo Montesinos Tubée
Manuel Ruiz Muller