Chamomile Market
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Dr. Abdul Ghafoor
Posted on: February 07, 2005

We have produced Matricaria chamomile at farmers’ field in Pakistan and would like to explore market demand for this commodity.

While exploring internet we came to know about your interest with medicinal plant and herbs. We believe that you might be having idea about marketing of chamomile and it will be highly appreciated if you inform us in this regard.

I have grown both forms of chamomile (roman and german) for more than 20 years, even designing several prototype harvesters for the flowerhead harvests.

The latter is an annual, and is where most of the marketplace lay in the 1980s. The perennial roman variety (Anthemis) is used for distillation and oil, and is easily taken from the field (different flavonoids).

If you are attempting to harvest the flowerhead for the tea industry, that is very difficult and requires advanced optics on your harvester design. I wrote several USDA grants on that aspect, but those studies were not funded (yet).

Our first prototypes worked well with pyrethrum and marigolds, but NOT Matricaria species. That needed the advanced optics with special knifing blades.

We grow a certified organic variety in several States and Canada, but all of those fields are (unfortunately) still taken by hand. A mechanical harvester is critical for any advancement on this crop’s production schedules and markets.

My design would be useable for a number of other crops requiring the flowerhead, and with NO stem residue. If you are growing chamomile for oil, then mechanical harvesters already exist.

Some insight: When I left the army intelligence, I chose alternative agriculture because I am a country boy at heart (values, lifestyle). Henry Barth hired me to build a corporation around these products. At that time, he was the 5th richest man in the world.

He gave me 28 farms, in four States, and deep pockets, to understand the next level of production and directions of those crops and markets. We put in fields of german chamomile, and looked at a variety of harvesters. That’s where I started my education in commercial herb growing, back in 1985.

For me, almost 20 years later, german chamomile is unfinished business. When USDA was not ready to fund my work on chamomile, it was given to some Canadians for disposition. It has not yet happened.

My designs are proprietary, but available for review, with non-competitive/non-disclosure agreements. I think I know how to do it correctly, as the component technology is now "off-the-shelf." Prototypes need to be made, and studies set up for changes in design.

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