Forests are treasure troves of natural resources. Besides timber, tribes also harvest non-timber forest products like nuts, honey, fungi, medicinal plants, barks, and flowers. These products, known for their wide range of applications, can be a promising source of income.
Products such as fruits, honey, and nuts are always in demand. Also, many forest plants and flowers possess medicinal values, and are in great demand from Ayurvedic medicine manufacturers. Further, many invasive plants can be used to make furniture.
Push from Governments can Boost Demand for Non-Timber Forest Products
The rural population in most countries depend on agriculture. Dwindling forest cover, unpredictable weather conditions, and rapid urbanization are impacting agriculture. Farmers often struggle during crop failure, entrenchment, illness, or separation from the family’s sole bread winner. Income from non-timber forest products can save them from poverty.
Despite proof that non-timber forest products find applications in several industries, there is little support from governments in most countries. The issue is that governments are unapprised about the success stories that are proof for non-timber products alleviating poverty in rural areas.
A book called “Poverty Reduction Through Non-Timber Products” brings to light success stories from across the world. Examples from India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, China, Uganda, Italy, Portugal, Nepal, Guatemala, and Cameroon, find mention in the book.
While there is no single solution to poverty alleviation, policy makers should study the situation and identify suitable measures. In India and Brazil, governments are providing vocational training programs to skill tribal populations in developing products from non-timber resources. They also provide certificates, and support them with marketing and learning the tricks of the trade.