Botanical products association hosts inaugural AGM

SABPA intends to expand its services to other users of South African IBR’s which fall under the NEMBA legislation to support on aspects such as market access and ABS compliance.

The recently launched Southern African Botanical Products Association (SABPA) held its first AGM in December 2023. So far, the association consists of about 17 members of the rapidly expanding botanical products industry – located within South Africa and internationally in Namibia, the USA and Canada.

Currently, SABPA is focused on developing the Sceletium sector. The increasingly popular Mesembryanthemum tortuosum (syn. Sceletium tortuosum; Sceletium, kanna), has gained the interest of both academia and industry for its potential in the treatment for depression and anxiety, to promote well-being, and provide stress relief. Potential mechanisms for its observed effects have been described. The main active constituents have been identified as mesembrine alkaloids and some of their individual properties have been investigated.

The plant – in its different preparations of tea, liquid and dry extracts – is garnering attention worldwide for its use as an ingredient in food, health supplements and medicinal products, with the USA being the market that currently shows the most rapid growth.

SABPA has recently received funding from the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs, managed by the German Governments Entity for International Cooperation (GIZ) under its ABioSA programme with them aim to develop the Sceletium sector along with other indigenous biological resource (IBR) sectors.

Sceletium tortuosum shows potential in the treatment of depression and anxiety, to promote well-being, and provide stress relief (Image: SABPA)

The primary aims of SABPA regarding Sceletium are:

  • Achieving self-affirmed GRAS status in the USA for various preparations manufactured by its members
  • Entering negotiations with the traditional knowledge holders of Sceletium to conclude an industry-wide benefit sharing agreement. This will enable the members to become compliant under the NEMBA legislation of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment
  • Creating awareness and developing markets for Sceletium based products locally as well as in international markets
  • Standardising analytical testing to provide growers, processors, traders, and brand owners with the certainty that they are working with good quality raw material and processed products – specifically, through a viable, multi-lab-validated quantitative assay and a suite of pharmacopeial monographs
  • Establishing an industry code of conduct, ensuring quality products and a quality seal to increase consumer confidence.

During the SABPA AGM the following board of directors were elected:

  • Chairman, Ulrich Feiter (Parceval)
  • Secretary and treasurer, Avril Harvey (Parceval)
  • Membership and business development, Ferdinand Labuschagne (Karoo Kanna)
  • Regulatory affairs, Dr Thomas Brendler (Plantaphile)
  • Projects and sub-committees: Prof Marietjie Stander (University of Stellenbosch) and Suzette Trevor (Doehler South Africa).

SABPA intends to expand its services to other users of South African IBR’s which fall under the NEMBA legislation to support on aspects such as market access and ABS compliance. Pelargonium sidoides, Aloe ferox, Harpagophytum spp., Xysmalobium undulatum, Lippia javanica, Myrothamnus flabellifolia etc. are some of the IBRs that are to be included under the SABPA umbrella.

For more information or if you wish to join the association, visit the SABPA website.

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