Andrographis is a medicinal plant used in traditional medicine to treat the common cold and fever. Demand and price for andrographis have been driven upward as the herbal plant is used to treat mild cases of COVID-19 infection in Thailand. A major bioactive component of andrographis is andrographolide.
A research team at Kasetsart University, Chalermphrakiat Sakon Nakhon Province Campus conducted a project employing technology and innovation to strengthen the capacity of herbal production value chain, focusing on andrographis, as a strategy to promote a local economy and alleviate the COVID-19 economic impact in Sakon Nakhon. The project was led by Dr. Sribud Srichaijaroonpong, an assistant professor of Faculty of Public Health and funded by Program Management Unit for Area-based Development (PMU-A).
The study revealed that while andrographis had long been grown in this area, the production focused on plant biomass, rather than the bioactive compound or the quality of the production. Farmers lacked knowledge in good agricultural management and best practices to produce quality herbal plants and meet the applicable standards. The project therefore put a focus on building capacity of farmers in agricultural management (quality seed, soil enrichment, water input, pest and weed control, etc.), post-harvest management and drying process to bring the andrographis production to meet PGS and GAP standards. The practices also enhanced the level of andrographolide from 1% to 4-6%, increasing the value of dry andrographis from 150 THB/kg to 2,000 THB/kg. On the marketing side, the project helped the local farmer enterprise establish their brand, an online marketplace to sell products such as dry andrographis and andrographis seedlings, as well as contract farming with two drug companies. Overall, the project was able to raise farmers’ income from 10,000 to 20,000 THB/household/month.
This project will be scaled up under U2T (University to Tambon). Three other community enterprises expressed their interest to apply this model to their businesses.