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Guidelines for planting and harvesting & dosage for antimalarial treatment


  • ARTEMISIA ANNUAGuidlines for planting and harvesting

    Dosage for antimalarial treatment

    IDAY-International aisbl - Rue des Jambes 19 - 1420 Braine-lAlleud - Belgique - T. +32 (0)2 385 44 13 - F. +32 (0)2 385 44 12 - IBAN - BE 93 5230 8026 6767 - BIC - TRIOBEBB (TRIODOS) - 0895.443.325 -

    Raising voices for education in Africa

    Photos: Dr Tobias Opiyo Arudo (CABURAP/IDAY-Kenya) Rangala Girls Secondary School (Nyanza, Kenya) Iwerlieven (Luxembourg)


    Artemisia annua needs to be cultivated in an open and mild soil. It adapts easily to all kinds of soils, even clayish. A warm and humid environment is optimal. Ideally, plantation should take place before or just at the beginning of the rainy season because the plant needs considerable amounts of water to grow to its full potential and achieve maturity at the beginning of the dry season. It reacts favourably to organic manure but not to chemical fertilizer.

    1. Seeding in nurseries

    The seeds are very small, comprising of 12 000 seeds /gram!

    Mix 1 spoonful of seeds with 10 spoonfuls of sand or ash (mix well the content of a package, as the good seeds are heavier and are usually at the bottom).

    Strew the mixture in a box (or a pot) with fine compost soil.

    Sprinkle it with sifted soil. Caution: the seeds need not be planted too deep in the soil as they might not germinate if sunlight does not reach them.

    Water three times a day, without flooding.

    Avoid direct exposure to the sun, yet maintain in sufficient sunlight.

    It is advisable to cover the nurseries with a protection veil (non-woven, for plant forcing) in order to get a slight greenhouse effect and to protect the plant from excessive sunlight and insects. Always keep it in the sunlight.

    Sometimes the plants also germinate when planted directly in the soil. In this case, mix the seeds with sand and scatter on wet soil, which is to be watered regularly for a week or two.

    However, this approach is not recommended.

    During the plants initial growing phase nursery, potting and replanting in open field, it needs considerable amount of water, as the slightest water deficit may lead to early flowering, which stops the plant from growing. Therefore, it is recommended that the nurseries are transplanted in the soil just before or at the beginning of the wet season. Considering that the wet season lasts for 120 days, the harvesting of the leaves could happen at the beginning of the dry season.

    Tricks:* Artemisia annua seedlings may resemble

    weeds and are quite delicate at the initial stage. It is therefore advised to sterilize both the soil and mixture before plantation, using the so-called solarisation method. It consists in covering the wet soil with a plastic cover for 5 days.

    * You may use portable nurseries (plastic or wood light cases) to facilitate transport and dissemination of seedlings.

    2. Replantation Add sifted soil in small pots with holes at the

    bottom (a yogurt recipient may also work).

    Dibble the seedlings one by one as soon as they become overcrowded and become 4 cm high.

    Prune the plants when they become overcrowded to avoid fungi and mould.

    Water the plants regularly (use a spray rather than a watering can) until the plant has 4 to 6 leaves.

    Ideally, the plants need a temperature of 23 to 25C during the day and 16 to 18C at night.

    3. Preparing the soil in the field Enrich the soil with compost and manure,

    but not in excess (mugwort) because Artemisia annua has adapted to poor soils. (reminder: avoid chemical fertilizers).

    Note: soil samples can be sent to Dr Pierre Lutgen for analysys and fertilization recommendations ( - Tel: +352 26 25 86 87)

    Plough (not too deep) and break the clods for a smooth and well mixed soil.

    4. Planting Take the clod out of the pot and plant it

    in the open field. In tropical countries it is recommended to wait until the plants reache a certain height before replanting them in the open field. While Artemisia annua repels insects, locusts might feed on the young plants. At this stage, we advise that Neem insecticide be used (based on extract of tree leaves and kernel oil). You may as well use a similar treatment on the soil before replanting.

    Space out the plants by at least 80 cm.

    Plant in the sun. The Artemisia annua culture can be mixed with other cultures such as coffee or tomatoes, as this plant protects the other ones from insects.

    Water abundantly every day, both in the mornings and in the evenings if it doesnt rain, especially in the first weeks.

    Some also recommend that the seedlings be covered with woven polypropylene fabric. It forms a sort of greenhouse that protects the plants from excessive sun, evaporation and the cold during the night. At the same time, it offers protection against insects.

    IDAY-International aisbl - Rue des Jambes 19 - 1420 Braine-lAlleud - Belgium - T. +32 (0)2 385 44 13 - F. +32 (0)2 385 44 12 - IBAN - BE 93 5230 8026 6767 - BIC - TRIOBEBB (TRIODOS) - 0895.443.325 -

    IDAY (International Day of African the Child and Youth) - Raising voices for education in Africa 1/4

    ARTEMISIA ANNUA Guidelines for planting and harvesting & dosage for antimalarial treatment

  • 5. Maintenance Little maintenance is required apart from

    occasional weeding in the first weeks.

    No destructive insects or parasites known.

    Try as much as possible to cultivate the plant on soils low in potassium. Consequently, avoid adding chemical fertilizer, especially potassium (kalium).

    6. Harvesting the leaves 4 to 5 months after plantation, depending

    on the latitude.

    Pick the leaves at the very start of the flowering.

    Tear the leaves upwards, at the extremity of the branches.

    You may also harvest the stems: the Chinese used to add them into their infusion because they also contain active elements.

    For information: 1 hectare of culture can produce 6 to 9 tons of leaves, which may turn into 1 to 1.5 ton of dried leaves after processing..

    Depending on the latitude and the length of the day, the plant may reach heights of 1m to 2,5m (0 latitude, level of equatorial countries) or 1,20m (L = 45 N ou 45 S) at maturity. Under equatorial climates, the plant reaches its optimal height very quickly: do not be surprised by its bolting and start harvesting the leaves as soon as the plant reaches 20cm in height.

    7. Drying The leaves and stems must be dried in

    the shade (it can only stay in the sun for maximum 2 days). If using chimneys, it is recommended that temperatures must remain below 50C.

    If you prefer separating the leaves from the stems, the dried leaves can be sifted to ensure a better separation and to obtain a finer blend.

    Do not wash the leaves: it eliminates a great deal of the active substances.

    Store the leaves in paper or aluminum bags. Keep away from light and humidity.

    8. Propagation and distribution

    a. Seeds harvesting

    Once the plants reached maturity, 2 or 3 of them (or a few branches) should be kept intact for seeds production.

    Identify the best specimens; mark them from othe ther plants with rubbon in order to preserve them until blooming. Collect a few leaves regularly but do not pluck them.

    When the seeds are forming, wrap the floral buds into plastic bags without closing them, so as to avoid further dissemination of seeds and limit the contamination with impurities. Allow the flower bulb to breath and dry.

    Let the seeds dry naturally on the stem before collecting them. Threshing can be done over a plastic sheet or over a clean surface.

    If the seeds are still humid during the harvest, it is recommended as a precautionary measure to dry them in a temperature below 40 C and to preserve them in sealed plastic cans or bags as to prevent humidity and to preserve their germination capacities. Before or during the harvest, germination tests should always be performed.

    b. Propagation with cuttings

    Artemisia annua is also easily reproduced with cuttings.

    Cut the stems into 30 cm stalks (from which some leaves can be removed for the infusion)

    Plant them into pots. They can be replanted into the open field once they root.

    Across Africa, experience shows that secondary school pupils are very quick at learning how to grow Artemisia annua and understanding its benefits (including the reduction of school absenteeism which normally affects their academic performance). The students also play a key role in tranfering the knowledge and information to their relatives and community, and to other schools.

    IDAY-International aisbl - Rue des Jambes 19 - 1420 Braine-lAlleud - Belgium - T. +32 (0)2 385 44 13 - F. +32 (0)2 385 44 12 - IBAN - BE 93 5230 8026 6767 - BIC - TRIOBEBB (TRIODOS) - 0895.443.325 -

    IDAY (International Day of African the Child and Youth) - Raising voices for education in Africa 2/4

    ARTEMISIA ANNUA Guidelines for planting and harvesting & dosage for antimalarial treatment


    WARNING While Artemisia annua infusion constitutes a treatment against malaria (and mayber other diseases) that can be accessible to all, self-medication is always risky and ought to be avoided. One should always seek medical advice for identification of the symptoms and follow-up on the treatment.

    1. Preparation the infusion Boil water and pour it on the Artemisia

    annua leaves. Infuse for at least 3 minutes. Do not boil the water with the leaves (decoction), which would affect the active elements of Artemisia annua.

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