“We have the chance to restore the former glory of medicinal and aromatic plants in Moldova”

The woman leading the micro-cluster of aromatic plant producers

UNDP in Moldova
UNDP Moldova


Lucia Ușurelu is the president of the newly created micro-cluster ”Herbafruct”, which aims to expand the processing activities of aromatic and medicinal plants in Moldova. UNDP and the Government of Switzerland will support producers in developing sustainable and profitable businesses and expanding their horizons.

Lucia’s passion for this field has its roots in her childhood. The experience she has gained over the years helps bring her closer to her dream of reviving the industry and harnessing the potential of local resources.

We wanted to learn more from Lucia about her professional journey and her vision for the development of the sector.

“When choosing my profession and the path I was about to embark on, I had to choose between law, commerce, and sports. My father encouraged me to pursue finance because those who chose his field find their purpose in life faster, are well-structured, and lead beautiful lives. I also considered a career in sports because the Nisporeni district was well-known for trampoline jumping, and many high-performance athletes began their careers here. I don’t know how far I would have gone as an athlete, but I do know that even now, I am not afraid of heights when it comes to picking some high-hanging fruits, just like my daughter, who has inherited my love for heights.

I followed the path suggested by my father and pursued studies at the Finance and Banking College of Chișinău, continued at the State University, and at the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova, Faculty of Commerce. I explored also public finance, earning a doctorate in public administration. My passion for aromatic herbs and teas accompanied me, however, throughout my entire professional journey.

Since early childhood, both my husband and I would start our day with a cup of tea. It was a family tradition, we had full-fledged tea rituals. Throughout the house, flowers like linden, chamomile and dog rose were always drying, so we grew up surrounded by these scents. Gathering plants was a frequent and beloved family activity.

We both used to provide financial and business consultancy, but it lacked substance, as neither of us had experienced business firsthand. We decided to launch a fruit export business, which became our first encounter with the typical business challenges: crises, currency fluctuations, lack of human resources, etc.

Armed with a deeper understanding of the field and its processes, we decided to finally invest all our childhood passion into the business of aromatic plants and teas, drawing on everything we have learned from our parents.

When we launched our business, this field was quite neglected. Now there are more businesses specializing in this, and I believe the pandemic played a significant role. People have started to take better care of their health and seek local resources to boost immunity. Although much tea is being imported and consumed from China, India and Sri Lanka, there is a growing awareness that we can cultivate our own teas in Moldova. Our plants have wonderful healing properties, are closer to home, and are fresher.

We started with 5 herbal blends: relaxing, immunity boosting, energizing, antitussive, and calming. Initially, we tested them on friends who were visiting us and asking to taste our tea. They encouraged us to take this project to the next level, so we decided to seek the expertise of specialists in the field. They brought a scientific foundation to the project, helping us create herbal blends with optimal therapeutic effects.

Few people know that some plants are not compatible or cancel each other’s properties. We started learning as a hobby that we inherited from our parents and grandparents; the consultancy received helped us to combine the plants correctly and choose the right quantity for each plant in the mix.

Our customers love to read about the healing properties of plants, now that all the information is available online. They see that certain plant mixes are recommended for various conditions and believe more in their effectiveness. In our packages, they can clearly see the leaves of the plants, not just powdered tea. They recognize pieces of hypericum, lemon balm, and chamomile. Once, a customer called me and said that our tea was indeed efficient and that it wasn’t just marketing. He was quite surprised because, like many others, he was used to consuming tea for pleasure without expecting it to solve any health problems.

Younger generations are interested in fitness and diets, while older people seek solutions for balancing blood pressure and calming. In the fall, everyone looks for ways to boost immunity and consume vitamins to cope with seasonal colds.

Our plantations are in Nisporeni, surrounded by Codri forests, where the area allows for the organic cultivation of plants and the preservation of all their qualities. We don’t purchase raw materials from unverified sources and prefer not to sell wholesale. We package our teas manually and sell them in a few small stores.

As for the newly formed cluster in our region, it’s something we’ve been waiting for a long, long time. Previously, I participated in creating the first business incubator in Soroca, further replicated in 11 other districts. In the northern part of the country, we tested the cluster concept, bringing together 18 companies activating in the textile industry. This facilitated cooperation among local authorities, development and research institutions, businesses, and development partners who acted as catalysts in this process. Drawing inspiration from the experiences of European countries, I was confident that the cluster model would also work in Moldova.

My enthusiasm grew as this approach gained popularity in Moldova. When I heard that the UNDP project “Resilient and inclusive markets in Moldova”, funded by the Government of Switzerland, was launching an initiative to support economic clusters in the country, I convinced our local partners to participate in the competition.

It’s a unique opportunity for the aromatic plant industry to revive and rightfully claim its place in the country’s economy. In the past, Moldova was a solid supplier of raw materials for medicines, for cosmonauts, for the hetero-oligomeric industry and for perfumery. The northern region held vast areas of roses, sage, and chamomile, processed on an industrial scale.

Living in the digital age, with the help of modern technologies and the support of our partners, I believe we have every chance to revive the former glory of medicinal and aromatic plants in Moldova. Facing both challenges and successes, my family and I have been on this journey for a long time, and we are ready to join forces with all those unafraid of reaching new heights.”

The micro-cluster ‘Herbafruct’ is one of the three economic micro-clusters created within the UNDP project “Resilient and inclusive markets in Moldova”, funded by the Swiss Government. The other two micro-clusters bring together actors from the zootechnical and tourism sectors. UNDP and Switzerland will support entrepreneurs who have joined forces to become more competitive together, expand their businesses, and create job opportunities for locals.



UNDP in Moldova
UNDP Moldova

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