This story was originally published on the website of the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), which will host a session titled “Food and biodiversity: Supporting forest livelihoods for food security, adaptation and mitigation” at the upcoming Forests Asia Summit in Jakarta, May 5 – 6, 2014. Follow INBAR on Twitter.
It may have a long and complicated name, but its purpose and benefits are straightforward.
INBAR’s Non-timber Forest Products Global Partnership Programme (NTFP GPP) is launching its new strategy after nearly a year of work with inputs from experts around the world.
So why are non-timber forest products (NTFPs) important?
More than a billion rural and urban poor people around the world depend on these natural resources for food, fuel, health and income security. NTFPs vary as widely as the places they come from and the people that rely on them, and include things like tree nuts, medicinal plants, honey, bamboo and rattan.
Bamboo and rattan are the most largely traded NTFPs. As INBAR has specific, transferable expertise in these areas, the NTFP GPP hopes to share this knowledge to benefit the harvest, trade, processing and growth of bamboo and rattan, as well as other NTFPs.
“It is high time to promote the sustainable use of these resources for poverty reduction and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Tesfaye Hunde, Director of INBAR’s regional office in Ethiopia.
“Historically, many civilizations and industries were based on these resources, and today, hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world rely on them still. Over a billion people in marginalized populations and developing countries around the world could not survive without NTFPs.”
Other organizations are also putting a focus on NTFPs. The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) recently conducted a study that highlights the link between tree cover and nutrition in children.
The study asserts that children living in areas of Africa with heavy tree cover tend to have diets that are more nutritious. This demonstrates that forests can have major impacts on food security as millions of people around the world do not have enough to eat.
Rattan is often used for furniture with a higher added value than bamboo. It can also be used as a tool to fight climate change as it stores carbon.
Recently, INBAR released a working paper noting the role of NTFPs in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
So, why the need for a new NTFP strategy? Because, even though much has changed over the last 10 years, too much remains the same.
“As was the situation nine years ago,” says NTFP GPP manager Manoj Nadkarni, “NTFP products are still mostly characterized by unregulated extraction, limited value addition at source, and minimal credibility of the sector among policy makers and investors.”
Since many of the policies in this sector are largely top-down, the informality of this approach often results in middlemen and contractors taking advantage of local collectors who lack alternative marketing channels.
The new strategy will work in four broad areas: 1) information exchange, 2) networking and network facilitation, 3) advocacy for those who depend on NTFPs, and 4) representation of these communities at key international events.
Areas with more tree cover have been linked to more nutritious diets in certain parts of the world, showing how forests contribute to food security. These bamboo shoots can help provide added nutrition for those who rely on forests.
INBAR hopes that the programme will function as a secretariat that can rapidly react and provide services, support and best practices for its members.
If you would like to become a member of the NTFP GPP, have any comments on the strategy, or its implementation, or simply want more information, please contact Manoj Nadkarni at firstname.lastname@example.org.