The profitability of the business of growing Echinacea purpurea reaches 210%. At the same time, more than 170 thousand UAH ($ 6.1 thousand) net profit from investments in cultivation at the level of 85 thousand UAH/ha ($ 3.05 thousand) can be obtained from one hectare.
This opinion was expressed by the technologist-consultant for the cultivation of medicinal plants of the company Shlesem-Ukraine Olexander Gubanev during the online webinar “Industrial and Home Growing of Herbal and Root Groups of Medicinal Plants,” which took place on September 9. The event was organized by the Ukrainian Horticultural Business Development Project (UHBDP).
During the webinar, Olexander Gubanev elaborated on the practical aspects of growing this crop. As noted by a specialist in the market of medicinal plants, Echinacea purpurea is a crop that is easier to grow than valerian. This is due to the fact that earlier, the culture was brought from North America, a region where it was grown in harsh conditions. “This prompted echinacea to adapt to growing in critical conditions,” noted Olexander Gubanev.
At the same time, the main nuances in the cultivation of echinacea lie in the correct preparation of the soil in the fall. “The soil should be leveled or cultivated to a depth of at least 20 cm. Quite often, farms that grow medicinal plants suffer losses due to drought because plants die from a lack of moisture. At the same time, a critical agricultural technique is loosening to a depth of at least 30-35 cm. The purpose of this event is to destroy the soil sole as much as possible. The fact is that when farmers plow to a depth of 20-25 cm, then a soil sole 3-5 cm thick is formed behind it. It is very hard and forms a rupture of soil moisture to the upper soil layer. I can give a guarantee that after deep loosening at least once every three years, especially in the southern regions of Ukraine, you will feel the effectiveness of this agricultural activity in the first year “, said the technologist-consultant for the cultivation of medicinal plants of the Shlesem-Ukraine company.
Olexander Gubanev also emphasized that echinacea’s raw materials are usually harvested in the second year of the growing season. In the first year, the plant’s yield is not high – a maximum of 5-7 c/ha of the root. “However, the main thing is that the roots of one-year-old echinacea are quite thin in structure, and during harvesting, they remain in a lot of soil. In the second year of the growing season, we are already harvesting two crops. The first of them is the grass in the phase of mass flowering, and in the autumn, we collect the root itself,” Olexander Gubanev said during the webinar.
The specialist also claimed that the demand for echinacea had increased sharply today due to the global coronavirus pandemic because this plant is an immunomodulator for various diseases. “Against this background, the price of echinacea has doubled. If last year for 1 kg of grass, you could get 20-25 UAH ($ 0.72-0.90), currently the price is 40 UAH / kg ($ 1.44). The price of a root currently is about UAH 120 / kg ($ 4.31),” said Olexander Gubanev. The specialist also noted that with the correct observance of all the necessary measures, from 1 hectare, it is possible to get 15 c/ha of dry root and about 35 c/ha of dry grass.
As for the varieties of echinacea, Olexander Gubanev especially singled out the variety “Princess,” which was earlier brought to Ukraine from Germany and currently is not cross-pollinated with other varieties. “However, if we talk about the yield of echinacea, it depends not on the variety, but the culture of agriculture, including fertilizers, sowing technology, and tillage. These are the main parameters of success in this business,” emphasized Olexander Gubanev.
He also noted that the bulk of the raw materials grown in Ukraine are currently sold in foreign markets. Some of the raw materials remain in Ukraine and are used to manufacture medicines or the food industry.
As noted by the Director of the Development Department of the Ukrainian Horticultural Association (UHA), Kateryna Zvereva, currently, the market for the sale of medicinal herbs is diverse.
“Significant interest in medicinal plants is shown by both EU countries and Asian and North American states. However, the bulk of Ukraine’s exported medicinal and aromatic raw materials falls on the EU. The annual consumption of raw materials in the EU countries is 400-420 thousand tons. This market’s annual growth is about 5% per year,” the director of the Development Department of UHA emphasized.
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