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NMSU launches online Asian medicinal herbs production, marketing training

New Mexico

The growing of Chinese medicinal herbs in the United States is becoming an emerging agricultural crop. To help farmers in the Southwest to decide if adding Chinese medicinal herbs is a viable option to their operation, New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumers and Environmental Science has developed an online tutorial.

"Asian medicinal herb production information for growers used to be almost as difficult to find as the proverbial needle in a haystack," said Charles Martin, NMSU agriculture specialist at the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde. "Now, thanks to Internet, distance learning technology and the creativity of the College of Agriculture technology department and NMSU University Communications and Marketing Department staff, access to learning about growing these niche specialty herb crops is just a mouse-click away."

Funded by a USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service grant from the Western Center for Risk Management Education, based at Washington State University, the online tutorial allows viewers to attend a live training program on Asian medicinal herb production and marketing, which was recorded earlier in the project.

"Asian medicinal herbs present niche marketing opportunities for specialty crop growers, especially nowadays when there is an increasing interest in Oriental medicine and other alternative health care modalities," Martin said. "However, not every grower can afford to travel long distances to attend live training programs like the one offered in December 2008 in Albuquerque."

National experts Jean Giblette of High Falls Gardens in New York, Peggy Schafer of Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm in Petaluma, Calif., and Jackie Greenfield of Gaia Herbs in North Carolina were invited to share their extensive knowledge of Asian herb growing and marketing with growers during the live training program.

"By posting the lectures and supplemental materials online and setting up the tutorial to be as participatory as possible, specialty crop growers from any part of the United States, or even internationally, can logon and benefit from participating in the online tutorial."

Access the tutorial at http://aces.nmsu.edu/medicinalherbs/ and proceed through the grower survey to receive the password to access the eight-session training. The training is divided into eight modules titled overview, species identification, propagation, cultivation and management, harvesting, invasiveness, processing, and marketing strategies. The homepage of each module includes an overview of the session's goal, link to the audio/visual presentation, listing of supplemental materials, resource guide, resource links and the presenter's contact information.

For further information about the online tutorial, contact Martin at cmartin@nmsu.edu or 505-852-2668.

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