CEUTA - Centro Uruguayo de Tecnologías Apropiadas

This Entry has been submitted.

CEUTA - Centro Uruguayo de Tecnologías Apropiadas

Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mónica Litovsky Díaz, a deeply thoughtful sociologist, uses Uruguay’s medicinal herb harvesting agro-ecological production and processing to bring popular and traditional knowledge into a modern framework, secure the participation of a marginalized population as suppliers in a developing market, and protect the environment.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Mónica is creating a system for harvesting medicinal herbs and for integrating ancient healing practices into formal health and pharmaceutical markets. She has identified community pharmacies as a key link where regulated modern markets and informal ancient ones must meet, and she has laid the groundwork for creative synthesis. Working with the health establishment, traditional healers, herb harvesters, scientists, the academy, policymakers, private landowners, and business, Mónica is creating a system that couples enhanced civic participation of a previously invisible population with policy that protects biodiversity while it expands the availability of high-quality medicinal herbs. Further, her system helps a growing formal market strengthen the position of small producers rather than exclude them. In Uruguay, with its large local consumption of medicinal plants, its rich resource base, and its popular sectors whose knowledge is retrievable and useful-especially with certification of medicinal herbs now on the public agenda-she has the advantage of starting with a blank slate and using what has been done and left undone in other Latin American countries. In the process of certification and regulation of herbs, Mónica, with the broad array of institutions and participants she has woven together, tackles the issues from every angle. She is building a shared process for scientific cooperation, one that (a) ensures quality standards of herb harvesting and medicine production at the community level, (b) prevents business practices that would harm plants and people, and (c) changes policy to facilitate regulation and to shape environmental protection. Mónica aims for Uruguay to set the standard for participative certification of medicinal herbs in the region and across the world. She sees applications of her model to be particularly relevant for countries such as Brazil, which also struggles to reconcile environmental protection, traditional knowledge, and commercialization. Her work will inform the Southern Common Market's (Mercosur) developing policy for trade in medicinal herbs. At the community level, trained herb collectors are replicating Mónica's work, teaching others, and spreading information.