Eco-enterprises and Terminalia ferdinandiana: "Best laid plans" and Australian policy lessons

Anthony Cunningham, Stephen Garnett, Julian Gorman, Kim Courtenay, David Boehme

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    This paper reviews practical policy lessons from trade in a dietary supplement (or nutraceutical) processed from Terminalia ferdinandiana (Combretaceae), which contains extremely high levels of natural ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Most production is from wild harvest by Aboriginal people, who get USD 14 per kilogram (kg) for picked, sorted fruit. However, the main Australian company involved is struggling to get the 12 tons/year it requires, and could market much more. Although Aboriginal people ideally should benefit economically from harvest of T. ferdinandiana, there are major challenges to this objective, including Australia's high labor costs compared to Asia, Africa, and Latin America where T. ferdinandiana can be grown. In addition, although Australia is a signatory to and plays a leading role in the international Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), this has meant little in practice so far. "Cultural branding" and certification of organic, wild harvested T. ferdinandiana fruit collected by Aboriginal people working in partnership with commercial companies offers a possibility for Aboriginal people to continue to benefit from wild harvest or enrichment plantings. However, even the establishment of commercial horticultural production within Australia faces several challenges. For Australia to maintain and develop the international market, future development of this bush food must include: (a) implementation of existing international and national policies on protection of genetic resources; (b) formation of a producer association to increase production efficiencies; (c) functioning partnerships between Aboriginal producers and commercial partners that guarantee and expand reliable supply and develop cultural branding and certification as marketing tools; and (d) scientific research into improving T. ferdinandiana fruit yields and production methods, based on improved resource management and efficient processing methods. � 2008 The New York Botanical Garden.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)16-28
    Number of pages13
    JournalEconomic Botany
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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