Artemisia, baobab… These African plants that could help fight against the coronavirus - Jeune Afrique

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A report from the Kew Gardens research center calls on the international community to take an interest in African plants, in particular to fight against Covid-19. Interview with one of the leaders of this study, Professor Monique Simmonds.


What if we could make better use of a wealth that lies before our eyes and yet is under-exploited? Plants and fungi could expand our range of possibilities, believes the Royal Botanic Gardens research center at Kew, London, in its fourth report, released September 30.

Some of these species, listed by 210 experts in 42 countries, could be used in food - more than 7 edible plants have been documented -, construction or even medicine. Natural remedies are in fact already used in the treatment of cancers, diabetes, zonas or malaria.

As the covid-19 pandemic continues to progress across the globe, the research center proposes to draw inspiration from, among other things, traditional African medicine, to probe nature's potential in the fight against the virus. And calls for international collaborations on the subject. Meeting with one of the persons responsible for the report, Professor Monique Simmonds.

Young Africa : In 2019, more than 1 plants and 900 fungi could be scientifically named for the first time. Why is it important to reference them?

Monique Simmonds: The world population is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050. However, new pests and new diseases will appear, all in a context of climate change. While two out of five plants are now threatened with extinction, it is essential to carry out a policy to protect them because they will undoubtedly be very useful to us in the face of these phenomena.

Our Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the world's largest conservation plan on-site in the world. In Africa, this enterprise of conservation and creation of national collections can help to better understand soils, to manufacture natural pesticides, to fight against desertification, and to participate in climate resilience and food security. Traditional medicine resources could also enter international markets.

Your report indicates that 723 species used in medicine are threatened with extinction. Conversely, have you discovered new plants in Africa?

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