869 PB 548 THE MARKETING OF MEDICINAL PLANTS IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

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  • 1 University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, #2 John Brewers Bay, St. Thomas, USVI 00802-9990

In the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) more than 400 plants are recorded as having been used for medicinal purposes. Traditional use of medicinal plants (locally known as “bush”) is based on Amerindian, African and European influences. Despite the predominance of “western medicine”, many Virgin Islanders still use medicinal plants for self-treatments, beverages and culinary purposes. Traditionally, medicinal plants were either collected growing wild or cultivated and often sold in marketplaces for local consumption. This method of marketing still exists, but new marketing outlets are developing. Selections of popular medicinal plants (imported and local) appear both fresh and packaged dry in supermarkets and specialty shops. Blended brews (i.e. “bush teas”) are available in restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens. Creatively packaged products are featured in stores and hotels catering to the tourist trade. Current expanding marketing trends target the great number of tourists visiting the USVI. Future plans with significant impact on marketing include the use of solar driers and establishment of a Fanners' Cooperative.

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