Thursday, 29 January 2009

PROTA: a guide to the use of African plants

PROTA - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa - is an international, not-for-profit foundation. It intends to synthesize the dispersed information on the approximately 7,000 useful plants of Tropical Africa and to provide wide access to the information through Webdatabases, Books, CD-Rom’s and Special Products.

The objectives are to bring the published information, now accessible to the resourceful happy few, into the public domain. This will contribute to greater awareness and sustained use of the ‘world heritage of African useful plants’, with due respect for traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.

The Agricultural College of Botswana uses PROTA books in their curriculum. The direct target groups for the PROTA information are the decision-makers in government, private sector, research, education and rural development, whose decisions affect millions of people depending for their livelihood on the plant resources.

The end-users are the people in Tropical Africa depending directly on the plant resources, mainly farmers and forest communities, but also workers in cottage industries, among them many women. PROTA will bring development opportunities based on plant resources actively and immediately to the attention of the direct target groups for realizing impact on the end-users.


Following the publication of the Timbers (1) volume (511 Species) and Medicinal (1) volume (894 Species), PROTA/Wageningen has started working (with funding from the COFRA Holding - Switzerland) on the PROTA 16 fibres and is looking for scientists who can participate in writing of the review articles. The fibre plants will be broadly defined to include plants made into textiles and cordage, and also those used for making paper, for thatching, packing and filling, as tying material, and for the production of baskets, mats, wickerwork, brooms and toothbrushes. This list can also be found on the PROTA website