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Boosting herbal medicine development

By Charles Ogugbaja, Owerri   |   13 October 2016   |   4:21 am
Bishop of Okigwe Catholic Diocese, Imo State, Dr. Solomon A. Amatu (left); Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Professor of pharmacognocy and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Chairman of BDCP, Maurice Iwu; and others at the inauguration of the Bioprocessing plant of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state

Bishop of Okigwe Catholic Diocese, Imo State, Dr. Solomon A. Amatu (left); Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Professor of pharmacognocy and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Chairman of BDCP, Maurice Iwu; and others at the inauguration of the Bioprocessing plant of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state

*Onu pledges govt’s patronage for locally-made natural products
As part of efforts to boost herbal medicine development in Nigeria, the bioprocessing facility of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state, was on Tuesday inaugurated by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.

As part of efforts to boost herbal medicine development in Nigeria, the bioprocessing facility of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state, was on Tuesday inaugurated by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu.

Also, with a view to help stimulate the natural products and bio-business industrial sub-sector and improve the health sector in Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) sub region, Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP) in collaboration with the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) Victoria Island, Lagos, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) Lagos, and the International Centre for Ethno medicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD), a private research and development centre, organised a natural products expo, HerbFEST 2016 from October 11 to 13 in Owerri, Imo State.

InterCEDD, makers of Intercedd Health Products (IHP), and BION are subsidiaries of BDCP, which is a non-governmental non-profit organization.


Onu, who performed the opening ceremony, appealed to Nigerians to desist in patronising such tea herbal products produced in other countries, other than Nigeria, insisting that the similar products manufactured in the country should attract the patronage of Nigerians at cheaper rates.

The inauguration of the bioprocessing facility by Onu and the Bishop of Okigwe Catholic Diocese, Imo State, Dr. Solomon A. Amatu, was on the sidelines of HerbFEST 2016.

The event was attended by the deputy governor of Imo State, Eze Madumere, representing Goverrnor Rochas Okorocha; a former deputy governor of the state, Chief Where Udeagu; immediate past deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, his aide on Public Affairs, Chief Bright Nwelue; a famous politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; the Director General of FIIRO Lagos, Dr. Gloria Elemo; a Professor of Pharmacognosy, University of Khartoum, Sudan, Hassan Khalid; Dr. Chris Okunji, from the United States, among others who came in from Kenya and other countries.

Onu condemned the quest for products from outside the country while Iwu and his colleagues could produce similar products. He said this was inconsistent with the present government’s aspiration.

Commenting on HERBFEST 2016, which held at the New Imo Concorde Hotels, Owerri, with the Symposium theme: Food as Medicine; African Herbs and Spices as Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, Onu, said: “Every country, state, should study and identify their medicinal properties. I appeal to patronize the made in Nigeria goods and services. This is good for our Nigeria and our country.”

He insisted that the problem of Nigeria rests in the people, stressing that there was need to look inwards and look for products that had satisfied foreign yearnings.

Onu urged all the relevant government agencies to partner Iwu’s effort to move the sector forward.

In his contribution, the governor, Chief Riches Okorocha, represented by his deputy, Eze Madumere, promised that the state government was willing to provide enabling environment for investors, commending Iwu for the feat in science.

Professor of pharmacognocy and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)/Chairman of BDCP, Maurice Iwu, at the inauguration said: “This facility is the latest addition to our biomedical research, development and production capacity. Our first research center, the InterCEDD was established at Nsukka 1995 and has carried out many successful research and development projects, including collaborative work with academic institutions, industries and governments in Africa, Europe and the United States of America. This new facility was established primarily to address the unanticipated increased demand for our finished consumer products and to supply processed value-added organic vegetable products for the export market.

“The Facility is equipped to process vegetable raw materials, from non-destructive drying of fresh farm products, through selective solvent extraction and reconversion to powdered materials, to the production of medicinal teas, oral liquid preparations and cosmetics.”

Iwu said apart from the production of dietary supplements, health foods and phytomedicines, this facility will also undertake the following:

•Engage in commissioned research and development projects and specialized technical support to small-scale industries engaged in the manufacture of plant based consumer products, dietary supplements and health foods.

•Provide specialized technical support mentoring facilities and services to government agencies and institutions involved in production and marketing of vegetable materials for the local and export market.

•Develop business partnerships for commercializing products and technologies from universities and non-profit research organizations in Nigeria.

•Conduct bio-entrepreneurship training to States, organizations and individuals interested in organic agriculture, processing and marketing.

BION is a member of the Bioresources Development Group (BDG), a full-spectrum biosciences organization engaged in the cultivation, processing, research and development of natural products as dietary supplements, functional foods and herbal medicinal products. BDG has six related entities: BDCP, InterCEDD Laboratories, IHP, Biotrade Global Agency Limited and Nature’s Emporium.

Iwu said for more than 20 years, the organization has used a business approach to promote natural products research and development, social business and poverty alleviation. “We have an in-depth understanding of the biological resources development field in which we chose to operate and that knowledge provides the technical expertise, problem-solving, and information management needed for the trans boundary, interdisciplinary, and highly-networked nature of today’s global competition,” he said.

The U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conducted a case study on BDCP for its pioneering efforts to mainstream African traditional medicine into modern health-care and economy in its publication on BDCP entitled “Traditional Medicine as a Tonic for Development”.

The Economic Development Institute of the World Bank has also produced a documentary video ‘Global Links: Nature’s Pharmacy’ that documented the research on medicinal plants at Intercedd Nsukka.

Iwu said numerous studies have showed that any effective and sustainable effort at poverty reduction in Africa must include investments in science and technology.

Some of the facilities at the Bioprocessing plant of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state

Some of the facilities at the Bioprocessing plant of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) at Umuna, Okigwe Local Council of Imo state

He further explained: “It is our understanding that this is perhaps the only Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) grade bio-processing facility in the country. This is not surprising given the extreme difficulty encountered in raising funds for technological projects with long maturation period, the dearth of technicians with practical knowledge on phytochemical processing and the tedious procedure involved in the importation of scientific and manufacturing equipment into the country.


“You will notice that in all our products we disclose the full list of the ingredients used in their formulation in order to allow others to verify the scientific basis of our formulations. In the technical dozier of our products, which we provide to physicians and scientists, we include citation of peer-reviewed relevant scientific literature to support the selection of the ingredients we used and the scientific knowledge that inform our indication of use.

“What we do not disclose however is our proprietary technical know-how and deep knowledge of natural products chemistry and pharmacology, as well as the ‘technical crafting and blending’ of the ingredients needed to produce the exceptionally high quality our range of teas, capsules and liquid preparations.

“As we say in BDG, ‘Science is Our Business’. The premium products that are made in this facility are therefore outcomes of years of research and careful formulation of wholesome organic ingredients. Most of the ingredients are produced in our own farms, without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Research has become paramount in all our projects.”

The pharmacognocist said the list of Intercedd Health Products include: IHP Physogen Tea; IHP Phytolax Tea; IHP Vernonia Ocimum Tea; IHP Detox Tea; IHP Hepa-Vital Tea; IHP Ginger Tea; IHP Bissap Tea; IHP Moringa Tea; IHP Ganoderma Green Tea; IHP Ganoderma Coffee; IHP Moringa Powder; IHP Moringa Seeds; IHP Zobo (petals); IHP Triple Action Hair Cream (Peppermint, Shear Butter, and Virgin Coconut Oil); IHP Hair Cream (Honey, Shea Butter, and Virgin Coconut Oil); IHP Shea Butter; IHP Virgin Coconut oil (60ml, 150ml, 500ml); IHP Organic Body Oil (60ml); Garcinia IHP; Immunovit – IHP; Erovit-IHP; Ganoderma Tea – IHP; Ganoderma; and Coffee – IHP.

Iwu said these products are available in Nature’s Emporium outlets, Next Supermarket and select pharmacy shops nationwide, as well as the online shops Jumia and Konga. “They are also available by direct sales to registered members through the Healthy Living Counselors programme.”

He said one of the founders of BDG is the author of the highly cited authoritative treatise on African medicinal plants, Handbook of African Medicinal Plants, which was first published in 1994 by CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida and a Second Edition in 2014 and Food As Medicine – Functional Food Plants of Africa, (2016) Published by Taylor and Francis.

Iwu said BDG has in its team, four Ph.D. holders in pharmaceutical sciences, including a professor of Pharmacognosy and a professor of Pharmacology; several scientists in various aspects of natural products research and development and a Scientific Advisory Committee that is comprised of world renowned scientists and experts in pharmacy, nutrition and medicine.

He further explained: “The other aspect of our work force is the deliberate selection of very talented young men and women to create a very efficient team that manage many aspects of programme. These young people bring into our Group, the dynamism of youth and the readiness to challenge orthodoxy and apply science for the solution of human problems. They constitute our greatest asset as we compete for share in the global knowledge economy.

“Based on our current raw materials, production and marketing needs, this facility will create jobs and alleviate rural poverty not only in Imo State in many parts of the country. We currently have organic farms in Benue State, Abuja and Enugu State. We are negotiating to establish collaborative out-sourced farms in Imo, Delta and Abia States.”

The pharmacognocist said they are aware that there are many dietary supplements and traditional medicines all over the country but they occupy a special niche in this sector. “Our products are results of careful and deliberate formulations using the best ingredients in the world. They have been subjected to the rigorous Intercedd analysis and declared fit within our ‘Quality by Design’ concept,” he said.
Herb FEST is an annual, regional, natural products expo with the mission to bring together a wide range of stakeholders (academia, policy makers-private and government as well as political heads, entrepreneurs, companies, practitioners-traditional and orthodox, general public, research institutions, investors/financial institutions) actively involved in the use, research, promotion and development of herbal and natural products. Each expo is complemented by a workshop to enhance technical capacity in the industry provide and elicit policy support, share experiences, promote ingenuity and stimulate investment/partnerships.

HerbFEST 2016 was designed to provide emerging natural products manufacturers including herbal medicine, functional foods, health and beauty products companies, as well as raw materials exporters an opportunity to showcase their innovative new products and technologies to manufacturers representatives, wholesalers, distributors, capital providers, pharmaceutical industry representatives, biotechnology/biomedical companies, government agencies and consumers.


The overall goal of HerbFEST is to showcase our achievements, research results, rich biodiversity and investment opportunities to the world and enhance the patronage/recognition, productive capacity and income status of small producers.

This will be achieved through a combination of exhibition and market promotion, enterprise development, presentations and scientific sessions, and training sessions. Unlike the old perception that natural products are being used only by the poor and that herbal and traditional medicines/medicinal products are often administered by herbalists or traditional medicine practitioners who perform some spiritual rituals and incantations, times have moved way ahead of that. Their role in healthcare has been relegated to the background mostly due to this wrong perception and this workshop seeks to correct such impression and bring to fore the role of these products and practitioners and research Scientists/agencies in healthcare delivery.

In addition, the workshop included capacity building aimed at improving the processes involved in the preparation and administration of such herbs/products.




  • Olori Magege

    This is what we need. Came at the most auspicious time in Nigeria. Bravo

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