The National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) says it has applied for 5,000 hectares of land to grow medicinal plants, roots and leaves that are local to Kwara environment.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, (Kwara Central) made the disclosure in Ilorin on Monday during a training conference for phytomedicine practitioners.

The conference was tagged “Developing Nigeria’s Phytomedicine for Healthy Population and Assured Economic Prosperity.”

He said that the conference was to assist the country in its research and quest to develop phytomedicines and vaccine to fight diseases and COVID-19.

He added that the benefit would not only be useful to Kwara, but to other NIPRD state offices in a bid to develop quality and economic phytomedicines in the country to fight various diseases.

Oloriegbe said that the objective of the phytomedicine training in Kwara was to ensure the safety and health of Nigerians who patronise locally produced medicines.

He said “it is our duty as policy makers to ensure quality medicines;  see to how we can empower our local medicine practitioners and ensure they use what are of quality to produce their medicine.”

He explained that producing medicine locally would help to save the country’s foreign exchange.

“You can see that when COVID-19 rages, we were moved to import drug from Madagascar. What they use for the drug is artemisia and Nigeria has better artemisia,” he said.

He added that if the country encouraged and developed its local medicine, it would not only empower phytomedicine practitioners, but boost the nation’s resources.

The senator also raised an alarm over the way some people coming into the country were granted entry without being made to follow COVID-19 protocols at the various entry points.

“The senate would have to step in to ensure that due process is followed when people come into the country from any of the entry points,” he said.

The Director General of NIPRD, Dr Obi Adigwe, said phytomedicine was a good source of medicine that could help to improve peoples’ access to health and social economic development.

He noted that “over the years, the phytomedicine potential of the country has been neglected. Countries like China and India in Asia are making billions of dollars from phytomedicines.

“It is rather ironical that the quality of phytomedicine ingredients in Nigeria and other African countries are better than those of these countries.”