Quinine and Quinidine Production in the Americas

A Brief History

in HortTechnology
Author: Ray F. Dawson1
View More View Less
  • 1 Consultant in tropical agriculture (retired). 40 Palmer Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789

Quinine, oldest of the anti-malarials still in use, and quinidine, an anti-arrythmic, have been extracted from Cinchona bark since about 1823. Exploitation of natural stands of Cinchona in the Andes led to several attempts at plantation production. Of these, the most successful were in Netherlands Indonesia (Java). Just before World War II, a cooperative effort to develop technologies for successful cultivation of Cinchona in the western hemisphere was undertaken by the governments of the United States and Guatemala, a major pharmaceutical firm, and four Guatemalan coffee planters. Cultural requirements of this cloud-forest genus were ascertained, and selection of clones for superior yield and disease resistance was achieved. Guatemalan plantings continue production despite the excessively cyclic nature of the market.