Safed Musli and Andrographis
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jane Watier
Posted on: February 16, 2005

I would any information you could give me on commercial production and marketing of the herbs Safed Musli and Andrographis please. I am interested in knowing price per pound, yield per plant, profit per given area in a greenhouse or possibly a source of information such as a book I could read or a phone number I could call. Thank you very much for any help.

The commercial viability of growing safed musli and andrographis in North America is not yet established. Both of these herbs are new to Richters 2005 catalogue, and neither has been grown commercially in North America as far as I know previously.

We do not believe that safed musli will be a grown as a field crop in North America, except possibly in the subtropical zones of Florida and other southern U.S. states. We believe that safed musli is hardy only to zone 11+. We do believe, however, that it can be a successful potplant and hanging basket novelty plant and as such could well become a "hot" plant for the house plant market. It is closely related to the ubiquitous indoor spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) so there is even a market that is familiar with growing a plant like safed musli.

As a field crop, safed musli’s profitability is tied to its multiplier factor. In India, one kilogram of safed musli tubers produces between 6-8 kilograms of fresh tubers in 8-9 months. This is roughly comparable to garlic, but of course garlic is hardy throughout North America and safed musli is not.

On the marketing side, safed musli is completely undeveloped. Our early impression is that there is an awareness of safed musli in the herb industry, and a strong interest in growing it, but among the general public safed musli does not yet register at all. I am not aware of any herb buyers that are asking for it yet, but I expect that to change over the next few years as the public hears about safed musli and its strenghtening and aphrodisiac effects.

For more information about safed musli, please see: http://www.richters.com/safedmusli/ .

I believe that andrographis can work as a field crop in North America. But I stress that it is so new that we don’t know how it will perform commercially in the field. It is important to remember that even if a plant grows successfully in new area that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be grown profitably. This is a plant that is widely grown in both India and China.

It is easy and fast to grow, although it requires warm soil temperatures to germinate. Probably it shouldn’t be sown outdoors until late spring, but then it becomes a question of whether it will reach the flowering stage before the frosts arrive in fall. In our greenhouses, the seeds germinated very quickly in June and by August they were in full bloom.

Like safed musli, there is no established North American market for andrographis. Possibly some herb brokers and distributors will look at small lots at this time, especially if the product is certified organic. But as andrographis becomes better known, we expect the market to respond because its cold and flu fighting properties are already well established.

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