Local knowledge and economic importance of Mondia whitei (Apocynaceae), a sexual stimulant in Benin
Local knowledge of many medicinal lianas that support rural people health in Africa remains poorly documented leaving incomplete understanding of their pharmacological and economic importance. This information is however critical to conserve target species and design formal management strategies. This study aimed at assessing knowledge and uses of Mondia whitei (Hook. f.) Skeels and its economic importance for local communities in Benin. We investigated traditional knowledge and contribution of M. whitei to rural household’s cash income by administering 51 volunteers (farmers, vendors, and folk medicine practitioners) with semi-structured questionnaires. Only one ethnic group was involved and the interviews focused on the uses of M. whitei, the purchase and sale price per unit (bunch), the transportation costs from collecting zones to market and the overall quantity sold during the period of investigation. Our findings indicated that the use of M. whitei roots against digestive and male genitourinary disorders were the most common. Use diversity and Use equitability values for the abovementioned uses were 0.43 and 0.26, and, 0.99 and 0.62, respectively. Other important uses include flavours for alcohol beverages, treatment of stomach disorders and tooth brush. Use of the species was reported to be age-biased, with old people being the most involved in its exploitation. The average profit margin per piece and a kilogram of roots increased from collectors to retailers. The average retail profit margin was 516 XOF ≈ 1.032 US $ per kilogram of the roots) with collectors earning the lowest profit margin (267 XOF ≈ 0.534 US $ per kilogram of root) indicating that the trade of M. whitei roots is not worthwhile in the study area. Since knowledge on the species was held by few people, there may be a risk for knowledge erosion. Active conservation actions are thus suggested to ensure sustainable use of the species.
Keywords: Medicinal plant, use diversity, use equitability, cash income, Benin