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KEY ISSUES FOR ACTION

Wulf Killmann

Introduction

A number of issues, connected with the rattan resource and its harvesting, processing and trade, require attention and action.

The resource

Ninety percent of the rattan stems processed today still come from natural forests. However, out of about 650 known rattan species, only 20 of them are used. Inventories of natural rattan resources are insufficient and, in most cases, non-existent. There are no standards for the measurement and assessment of the resource. With some small exceptions in Central Kalimantan, natural rattan resources not only are not managed, but they are even over-harvested. This leads to a partial shortage.

Meanwhile about 120,000 hectares of rattan plantations have been established. For a successful rattan plantation, important factors that must be considered are the selection of site, species and tree crops to be under-planted. So far experience has been gathered with under-planting tree species such as Pinus spp., Acacia mangium, Hevea brasiliensis, and with planting in logged-over forests. The envisaged double use of the plantations (host trees and rattans) has shown only limited success in practice due to harvesting problems (rattan spines) and weight of rattan (breaking of host tree branches). In some cases the conversion of rattan into oil-palm plantations was considered a more economic land-use than rattan growing.

Issues to be addressed:

Shortage of rattan resources in some countries;
Management of natural resources;
Rattan inventories;
Introduction of resource assessment and measuring standards;
Introduction of sustainable harvesting methods;
Regulation of harvesting;
Selection of host vegetation for rattan plantations;
Plantation establishment and management;
Plantation economics.

Processing and trade of rattan

A considerable amount of the resource is lost due to wastage in harvesting, transport and processing. Some of this wastage is on account of mechanical damage to the stem, other to losses due to fungi and insects. Protective methods and processing techniques are well known and established. However, lack of training and lack of standards lead to additional losses during processing and to quality deficiencies of the end products.

Issues to be addressed:

Reduction of wastage in harvesting, transport and processing;
Training at all levels;
Quality standards to be agreed upon;
Standards to be introduced and monitored;
Investment for training and equipment.

Enabling policy

Resource collection, processing and trade of rattan generate employment and income in both rural and urban areas in the producer countries. Rattan exports also provide foreign exchange earnings and thus contribute positively to the trade balance of these countries. With the dwindling supply of the natural resource and an impending decline of the rattan industry, policy measures are required to enable the sector's continuing contribution to local, regional and national economies.

Issues to be addressed:

Regulation of ownership of, and access to, the resource;
Introduction of licensing rules;
Verification of beneficiaries;
Introduction of incentives for resource management (in natural forests or in plantations);
Promotion of downstream processing.

Conclusion

Natural rattan resources are declining in quantity and quality. Reduced quality of raw material and end products lead, on the one hand, to increased costs and prices for high-quality products and, on the other, to substitution of rattan by other natural and industrial materials. Export reduction results in a reduction of foreign exchange earned by this market segment and to a decrease in employment and income in the rural and suburban areas of producer countries. The health of the rattan sector thus has an impact on the socio-economic fabric of rural and urban society. Management, collection, processing and trade of the rattan resource cannot be seen in isolation, but rather the strengthening of this sector has to be integrated with other agricultural, forestry and small-scale industry concepts in rural and suburban areas.

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