Bamboo charcoal and vinegar
Edible insects


Agarwood, eaglewood, gaharu, aloeswood - these are just a few of the names for the resinous, fragrant and highly valuable heartwood produced by Aquilaria malaccensis and other species of the Indomalesian tree genus Aquilaria. The wealth of names for this dark and heavy wood (its Chinese name literally means "wood that sinks") reflects its widespread and varied use over thousands of years. Both agarwood oil and incense are used for their fragrant properties, notably in the Near East. Agarwood incense is used in religious ceremonies by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, while a revival of the Koh doh incense ceremony in Japan has rekindled interest in agarwood in that country. In Taiwan Province of China, agarwood is an aromatic ingredient in Chu-yeh Ching and Vo Ka Py wine. Although less common, agarwood may also be carved into sculptures, beads and boxes, which are sometimes also used for religious purposes.

Accounts of international trade in agarwood date back as early as the thirteenth century, India being one of the earliest sources of agarwood for foreign markets. Agarwood is currently traded in large quantities: more than 700 tonnes of agarwood from Aquilaria malaccensis were reported in international trade in 1997. Available trade data report approximately 20 countries as exporting and re-exporting agarwood from 1993-1998, with exports from Indonesia and Malaysia taking the lead. Although overall trade volumes may appear small in "timber trade" terms, they are not small in monetary terms. Agarwood chips and segments may sell for several hundred to several thousand US dollars per kilogram. The price of oil distilled from agarwood is generally between US$5 000 and $10 000 per kilogram, but can be significantly more for agarwood oil of exceptionally high quality.

Unfortunately, the demand for agarwood currently far exceeds the available supply, which is naturally restricted owing to the nature of its formation - agarwood is only found in a small percentage of Aquilaria trees of those species known to produce it. Although research into the origins of agarwood is ongoing, it appears that the fragrant resin that permeates the heartwood of some Aquilaria trees is produced as a response to wounding and/or a fungal infection. It is this resinous wood, or "agarwood", that is sought, the non-impregnated wood being considered too soft to be useful for construction. Agarwood is harvested by felling and then splitting trees open. External signs of the presence of agarwood are not always obvious. As a result, Aquilaria trees are often cut down indiscriminately in the search for those containing agarwood. The high value of agarwood products is also stimulating illegal harvest and trade in several range countries.

Populations of eight Aquilaria species have already declined to the point where they are considered threatened according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List Categories. Of these, six species are considered at risk from overexploitation for agarwood.

In view of the evidence of unsustainable harvest and trade, intergovernmental action has been taken to bring the international trade in one of these species, Aquilaria malaccensis, within sustainable levels. A. malaccensis was listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) with effect from February 1995. This listing obliges all CITES member countries exporting or re-exporting A. malaccensis parts and derivatives (e.g. wood, chips, oil) to issue CITES documents for those shipments exported. In the case of exports from range states, the Convention stipulates that such permits should only be issued once the exporting government has confirmed that the agarwood to be exported was obtained both legally and in a manner not detrimental to the survival of the species.

The CITES Plants Committee considered it a priority to review the implementation of the CITES listing for A. malaccensis during the 1998-2000 triennium. Trade Records and Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) was contracted by the CITES secretariat to undertake such a review in 1998. TRAFFIC's research initially focused specifically on CITES implementation. However, as several different Aquilaria species are in trade and agarwood is extremely difficult to identify to the species level, TRAFFIC's research was broadened to encompass a more general review of agarwood use and trade. Information was gathered through: interviews with government authorities, other agarwood researchers and traders; compilation and analysis of CITES and customs trade data; and a review of available legislation and literature. Market surveys and visits to harvest sites and processing centres were undertaken in several countries.

The results of TRAFFIC's research are reported in the TRAFFIC Network report Heart of the matter: agarwood use and trade and CITES implementation for Aquilaria malaccensis. The full report can be downloaded ( ). (Source: Extracted from the executive summary of Heart of the matter: agarwood use and trade and CITES implementation for Aquilaria malaccensis.)

For more information, please contact:

TRAFFIC International,
219c Huntingdon Road,
Cambridge CB3 ODL,
Fax: +44 1223 277237;

[Please see under Country Compass - Papua New Guinea - for more information on agarwood.]


Seventy-five percent of the world's population depends primarily on traditional medicines, many of which are gathered from the wild. Products derived from the "sweet wormwood" plant are increasingly important in combating drug-resistant strains of malaria, particularly in Africa.
(Source: Biodiversity - a crucial issue for the world's poor. DFID, UK. ISBN 1-86192-341-4.)


Bamboo charcoal and vinegar

Bamboo charcoal and vinegar production is more and more prosperous in China and most of the products are exported to Japan and other countries.

Bamboo charcoal has a good market in Japan owing to a felling ban in natural forests and the good character of bamboo charcoal. In addition to bamboo charcoal being used for fuel, there are several other uses:

Agriculture. As a carrier of organic manure and micro-organisms in the soil, bamboo charcoal can improve the vigour of the soil.

Chemicals. Bamboo charcoal can be used as the raw materials of bamboo active carbon. Bamboo charcoal shows strong absorption because of the special structure of micro holes of the bamboo stem. Tests show that the absorption properties of bamboo active carbon are extremely good.

Medicine and health care. Pillows and mats made of bamboo charcoal can soothe the nerves, relax backaches and control snoring. Bamboo charcoal also functions as a deodorizer, dehumidifier and fungicide.

Environment protection. Bamboo charcoal can be used as a water clarifier, a shield for electromagnetic waves and absorber of poisonous gases. Pollution indoors would be absorbed if the panels were made of bamboo charcoal instead of the asbestos flakeboard and plastic boards. Ninety-five percent of the nicotine and other poisonous materials would be absorbed if cigarette filters were made of bamboo charcoal.

Other fields. Bamboo charcoal can be made into many kinds of compound materials in the material industry. It also can be made into handicrafts, feed additives and high-capacity rechargeable storage batteries, etc.

Bamboo vinegar consists of 80 percent water. When it is dehydrated, the vinegar consists of about 80 to 200 components, or 32% organic acid, 40% phenolic compound, 3% aldehyde, 5% alkone compound, 5% alcohol compound, 4% ester compound and 5% others.

Bamboo vinegar is a by-product of bamboo carbonization. Bamboo vinegar can be used as soil fungicide, plant root growth promoter and deodorizer, in cosmetics, health drinks, medicines, etc. (Contributed by: Jinhe Fu, INBAR, China.)

For more information, please contact:

Dr Jinhe Fu, Program Officer,
International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR),
Beijing 100101-80,
Fax: +86 10 64956983;
e-mail:; or

Edible insects

Edible insects in Ngao Model Forest, Thailand

Insects have been consumed by the human race for a long time because of their availability and high nutritional value. It is estimated that people eat at least 100 species of insects. The cooking method for insects varies from species to species and place to place. Some insects are fried in oil, others roasted directly and some are fermented with whisky, while many species are eaten raw. There are different stages in insect development and each stage, namely egg, larva, pupa and adult, has a different method of processing.

Most insect consumption seems to be limited to rural areas at the forest fringes, where it is easy to collect the insects. In the Ngao Model Forest (NMF) area of Thailand, however, it is not only the local people, but also the people from towns, who collect and consume insects. Sometimes, people from outside the NMF come and collect insects, not only for their own consumption, but also to sell in the market.

The extent of insect consumption is rising sharply. Earlier, the insects used to be collected from the wild; it was not necessary to rear them since consumption was on a small scale. Nowadays, some edible insects are being reared for mass production and to reduce collection from their natural habitats. But most of the edible insects such as the giant cricket, cicada and bamboo worm are still collected from the wild, and only a few species are reared (cricket and some red ants).

In the NMF area, local people collect and consume insects regularly. They have the local knowledge of where and when to find insects and the techniques for searching and harvesting insects. They use the insects for household consumption, and the rest are sold in the market or along the roadside. Many edible insect species are harvested in the NMF area, including giant cricket, cicada, ant, mole cricket, giant water bug, water scavenger beetle, grasshopper, scarab beetle, etc. Most are harvested in the rainy season (early May to September). The giant cricket is usually found during June to August.

People usually only eat the eggs and young nymphs of red ants. The ants build their nest on evergreen trees such as mango and wood apple. The peak season for egg production is around March-April. Eggs are sold in the market for very high prices, about B 10 to 20 for one small heap of eggs.

The mole cricket, giant water bug and water scavenger beetle always come out during the rainy season. The mole cricket and water scavenger beetle are also sold in small heaps (30 to 40 individuals) and are priced at B 15 to 20 per heap. For giant water bugs, the male has a higher value than the female, because the male has a good odour while the female does not. The price for males and females in the market is about B 2.5 and B 1.5 per individual, respectively. (Source: Extracted from Model Forest Approach News, July 2001.)

For more information, please contact the author:

Mr Kobsak Wanthongchai,
Forest Research Officer,
Forest Insect Pest Control and Research Center, Ngao,
Lampang 52 110,

Mopane worms

Mopane worm, the larval stage of Imbrasia belina, has been consumed as a delicacy in most southern African countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi and Namibia since time immemorial. The edible caterpillars, which are mostly found feeding on mopane trees (Colophospermum mopane), are a larval stage of the Saturniid moth. Full-grown larvae measure 50 to 80 mm and are, fat, spiny, mottled black, yellowish, red-specked caterpillars. Adults are large, brown, heavily scaled moths with conspicuous eye-spots on each wing. Adults have atrophied mouth parts, hence they do not feed.

These edible larvae are widely harvested in the southern parts of Zimbabwe for food (subsistence) or for sale by the local people. These are degutted, cleaned, boiled or roasted and dried without any further processing taking place. Despite the popularity of the mopane worm in Zimbabwe, little is known about its biology and ecology. An interesting phenomenon, however, is that although the mopane worm's favourite host is mopane, it is not found throughout its host range in Zimbabwe: it is absent in areas of a mopane veld on basalt preferring a mopane veld on granite. Mopane worms are also collected from miombo woodlands, although this is associated with dimorphism. Its alternative hosts include Brachystegia spiciformis, Julbernadia globiflora and J. paniculata.

Local residents in mopane worm areas of Zimbabwe feel that there has been a steady decline in the insect's populations. Mopane worms are also disappearing from parts of Botswana after heavy harvesting. The economic hardships and change in urban diets has led to the commercialization of this resource, resulting in its use going beyond that of the subsistence level. It is considered as having the potential to generate income to the resource-poor farmers in areas of mopane worm abundance. The major threats to mopane worm availability now are the effects of late-season burning on miombo woodlands, overutilization of the caterpillars, unavailability of hosts owing to deforestation and the cutting of large branches to collect the resource and the changes in climate, e.g. drought. In Zimbabwe the availability, in general, of edible caterpillars is reported to have diminished markedly; of the 14 species commonly said to have been consumed in the past, most have decreased in abundance and some are very rare.

A recent study on Zimbabwe has reported that there have been changes in the patterns of mopane worm exploitation for income which has been driven by availability of the resource, the need for cash and the changes in taste and market demands especially from urban dwellers who have maintained their rural tastes. Commercialization of mopane worms in mopane worm abundant areas of Zimbabwe has brought about a wide range of social, economic and environmental degradation problems. The study recommended that the biology and ecology of the mopane worm be studied as a matter of urgency by the Forestry Commission. With sustainable utilization being one of the current ecological catchwords, the relevant scientific investigations will be necessary before enlightened inferences on the sustainability and the impact of harvesting on natural mopane worm populations can be made. At present, the impact of harvesting and utilization of mopane worms on the basic reproductive functions of mopane woodlands is not known. There are already fears of a decline in mopane worm populations in most southern African countries owing to overutilization. These studies should not be carried out in isolation from mopane woodland ecology, as there is already a delicate balance between the insect and its host. The study also recommended that mopane woodland ecology should be studied and that silvicultural management approaches incorporating mopane worm harvesting should be developed by the Forestry Commission. Non-wood forest products (NWFP) generally play a pivotal role in the sustainable management of forests, thus supporting biodiversity. Their commercial exploitation has been found to be less ecologically destructive than timber harvesting and therefore to have greater potential for sustainable forest management.

Mopane worms contribute significantly to rural household economies through nutrition and health contributions and as an important household food security resource. Nutritionally, mopane worms are comparable to and have even higher protein, fat, carbohydrate and calcium contents than beef, chicken and milk. The mopane worm's potential in enterprise development is actually dependent on the fact that it is a high-protein food source. Nutritional studies of mopane worms in local food industries have been carried out in Botswana and South Africa, but not yet in Zimbabwe. These help to add value to the product and the full realization of the mopane worm potential in the sporting and livestock feeding industries and in the infant food formulation. The potential of mopane worms in enterprise development will help in employment creation, especially in rural communities where income is only limited to agriculture.

Currently not much processing is done on the raw product, hence its marked absence on the international market. There is, however, a danger of overharvesting of the resource as a response to increased demand. Currently the buyers determine the prices because the harvesters have no transport, storage facilities and the marketing is not organized and is done at the harvesting camps.

The situation at present in Zimbabwe regarding NWFPs is marked by a serious dearth of information, especially for those products that are consumed locally, e.g. mopane worms. (Source: Pilot Studies - Zimbabwe. Data Collection and Analysis for Sustainable Forest Management in ACP Countries - Linking National and International Efforts. EC-FAO Partnership Programme, 1998-2001.)


Apiculture Development Programme

Apiculture is one of the most attractive and promising income-generating activities for PROSHIKA-facilitated group members owing to high returns and low investment.

Since the inception of the Apiculture Development Programme in 1976, PROSHIKA, one of the largest NGOs in Bangladesh, has innovated and introduced a number of new technologies to modernize apiculture practices in Bangladesh. Through its organized group members, PROSHIKA is moving towards immense success and proven commercial viability, besides reaching its prime goal - poverty alleviation.

Beekeepers with two melifera colonies can earn Tk 5 000 to 6 000/year with only one hour per week. The total financial investment per box is Tk 1 000 and each box lasts about ten years. Group members are especially interested as they can run the programme at the same time as their other activities. Besides the Revolving Loan fund, group members also carry out many apiculture projects with their savings, since the capital required in such projects is very low.

The table below shows the success over the last three years with the active participation of group members of PROSHIKA.

Beekeeping and honey production





Beekeepers (No.)




Bee colonies (No.)




Bee boxes (No.)




Honey production (kg)

16 586

13 562

13 727

Besides the group-based project for conducting training and experimenting further for the development of bee rearing, PROSHIKA runs three model apiaries. The developed varieties of melifera bees are reared in these apiaries through 227 bee colonies. In 2001 a total of 20 000 kg of honey was produced in these apiaries.


Floating on the wings of bees

Birbal was a day-labourer in Bangshi Nagar village in the Tangail district of Bangladesh. He did not have any land of his own and had been living in a tiny hut on a piece of land that belonged to the government. He had to work hard on other people's farms to provide for his family of five and had nothing to look forward to.

The turning point came in 1994 when, with PROSHIKA's help, Birbal organized a group from his village and named it Daridra (the poor). His group started saving Tk 5 as required every month until the total savings stood at Tk 12 000. During that time, he received training in apiculture from PROSHIKA, after which he started his beekeeping venture. He bought four boxes with a credit support of Tk 2 000 from PROSHIKA.

The first year he produced 90 kg of honey, worth almost Tk 11 000. He easily repaid all the loans from his earnings and multiplied those four boxes into ten bee colonies. This time he produced 200 kg of honey worth Tk 24 000 and earned Tk 4 000 from selling the colonies. He soon became a man known in his area for selling pure honey.

In 1996 he built a tin-shed house for his family by selling eight bee boxes from his stock of 20 for Tk 8 000. That year his income from selling 240 kg of honey reached Tk 28 000. He has not taken any more assistance from PROSHIKA since. Beekeeping has been enough to lead him to brighter days.

Then Birbal invited his brother to participate in his enterprise. In 1997, they had 22 bee colonies, which produced 270 kg of honey worth Tk 37 800. This time he purchased two cows, a goat and some poultry from the earnings of the honey and bee boxes. In 1997, his family savings amounted to Tk 30 000. In 1998, he bought 40 decimal lands from his earnings and planted seasonal crops to earn even more money. He also installed a sanitary latrine at his house. Soon he owned 28 bee colonies and decided to cultivate melifera.

From being a day-labourer, Birbal thus became a self-reliant, well-off man and is now the leader of a PROSHIKA-facilitated group. His group now has savings of Tk 150 000 and has inspired seven other members of his group to come forward with apiculture projects. (Contributed by: A.Z.M. Manzoor Rashid, Bangladesh.)


For more information, please contact:
A.Z.M. Manzoor Rashid, Lecturer,
Department of Forestry, Shahjalal University of Science & Technology,
or ;
Information and Documentation Resource Cell, PROSHIKA, I/1-Ga, Section-2, Mirpur, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh.
Fax: +880 2 8015811;

Honey market ecoprotectionism?

Ecoprotectionism is the concern that applying environmental tests to the origin of products will provide a new excuse for limiting the imports of products from poor countries. Is this happening in the case of honey imports to the European Union (EU)?

On 12 February 2001, the EU Commission adopted a new decision (2001/158/EC) listing countries authorized to import honey into the EU. No African nations are included in this list and from Asia, only China, India and Viet Nam are eligible. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent honey containing undesirable residues from being imported into Europe. To be listed, countries must submit a plan, setting out guarantees regarding the monitoring of various residues including antibiotics, pyrethroids, organochlorines and heavy metals.

For a country to be permitted to export honey to the EU, it must first be added to the list of permitted countries. Zambian honey exporters recently formed themselves into a group and, overseen by their Ministry of Agriculture, have successfully applied for Zambia to be added to the list. (Details of EU decision 2001/158/EC can be found at )

Beekeepers working in remote areas of poor countries have good possibilities to produce top-quality, non-contaminated honey and beeswax. We must ensure that they also have a fair opportunity to obtain top prices for their premium products. (Source: Beekeeping and Development .)

For more information, please contact:

Ms Nicola Bradbear,
Bees for Development,
Troy, Monmouth NP25 4AB,
Fax: +44 (0)16007 16167;


Fungi, mushrooms and FAO

The FAO NWFP Programme is currently involved in various activities related to the sustainable use of fungi. These activities include:

• Compilation of a global study on Wild edible fungi and rural livelihoods. This study aims at compiling in one volume widely scattered information on the uses and prospects for the development of wild edible fungi worldwide. The study is being compiled by CABI Bioscience on behalf of FAO. (For further information, please contact Sven Walter, FAO NWFP programme; e-mail: )

• Compilation of a subregional study on Forest-based mushrooms in East and Southern Africa, which aims at documenting and assessing mushrooms and community management, harvesting and trade. (For further information, please contact Michel Laverdiere, Forestry Officer, FAO Subregional Office, PO Box 3730, Harare, Zimbabwe; e-mail: )

• Case study on the Assessment of wild edible mushrooms in Malawi. This field study is being carried out in the context of the European Commission-FAO Partnership Programme in order to support FAO's activities in the development of generic NWFP inventory guidelines. (For further information, please contact François Ndeckere-Ziangba, FAO NWFP Programme; e-mail: )

Mushroom studies in Zimbabwe

Mushrooms in indigenous forests

An extensive literature review was carried out on the productivity and contribution of edible mushrooms found in miombo woodlands to rural household economies. It was observed that mushrooms occur in flushes during the rainy period, from November to April. Mushrooms have been observed to have 20 to 40 percent of crude protein, 3 to 28 percent of carbohydrates and a wide range of both macro- and micro-elements. Any assessment of the contribution of mushrooms to the rural economy should thus consider the total economic value (i.e. both consumed and traded quantities). Road survey results indicated that on average each household consumed approximately 20 kg of fresh mushrooms per annum. It is estimated that about 10 tonnes of fresh mushrooms are exported from miombo woodlands annually, realizing about US$500 000 to corporate organizations.

There is an apparent dearth of information on the productivity of mushrooms occurring in natural forests, which makes it difficult to assess their contribution to household incomes. Productivity has in the past been estimated from the amounts collected by mushroom gatherers, a method that can result in unreliable data because of the disparity between forest productivity and amounts harvested. Since most of the mushrooms occur in ectomycorrhizal associations with some specific trees, forest depletion can have significant impacts on mushroom yields. Of about 60 species of edible mushrooms used in Zimbabwe, those of the genera Amanita, Cantharellus, Termitomyces and Lactarius are the most preferred for collection.

Pine plantation mushroom (Boletus edulis)

Boletus edulis is an edible mushroom commonly found in pine plantations where it grows in symbiotic association with the roots of pine trees. A case study (survey) was carried out on three forest estates in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe to assess mushroom production from the plantations, and their contribution to household income for the local communities. The findings show that pruned and thinned stands with slash scattered on the forest floor tend to yield higher volumes of edible mushrooms. Although mushroom harvesting is a high foreign currency earner business, its contribution to household income for local communities engaged in picking and processing operations is only at the subsistence level. However, the mushroom business was observed to have created employment opportunities mainly to women (92 percent of the labour force).

Difficulty in obtaining reliable quantitative information on productivity stems from a significant level of illegal mushroom picking in the plantation forests. Further research on mushroom productivity is recommended in order to increase the income levels of the rural communities engaged in the picking operation. Moreover, educational programmes aimed at identifying other edible mushrooms on exotic plantations must be conducted so as to contribute to the development of the local mushroom pickers.

For more information, please contact:

Sven Walter, FAO NWFP Programme.
[Please also see under International Action - FAO in the field, for more information on these case studies.]

Développer des protocoles pour contrôler des populations de champignons

Une équipe du Service forestier de la Station de recherche du Nord-ouest Pacifique à Corvallis, au Département de l'agriculture des Etats-Unis (USDA), a développé une méthodologie pour inventorier, évaluer les rendements et contrôler la production de champignons sauvages comestibles depuis 1993. Leur expérience et le processus de développement des idées sont très bien documentés dans une série de publications et fournissent une étude de cas riche d'informations sur les problèmes d'inventaire des produits forestiers qui ne sont pas issus des arbres.

Les problèmes principaux qui se posent à l'équipe de conception viennent du fait que les champignons cibles (Matsutake, chanterelle et morilles) apparaissent comme des colonies dispersées, réparties spatialement de manière très inégale, très énigmatique (en grande partie invisible sur le sol) et également saisonnières. Il a été reconnu dès le début que la distribution inégale exigerait le développement de nouveaux schémas d'échantillonnage et analyses. La première tentative d'inventaire a utilisé des méthodes empruntées aux études sur la diversité des champignons dans trois forêts étudiées. Dans chaque forêt, trois emplacements ont été choisis pour représenter les trois types de végétation les plus productifs de la forêt. À chaque emplacement, trois zones d'étude de 225x225 m (5 ha) ont été choisies pour représenter l'altitude, l'aspect et l'accessibilité à travers le type de végétation, fournissant ainsi neuf sites d'étude dans chacune des trois forêts étudiées. Chaque site a été entouré par des affichages qui en limitaient l'accès, et dans chacun d'eux, six échantillons en bande de 2x50 m, marqués de manière permanente, ont été systématiquement placés selon une orientation aléatoire. Les échantillons ont été mis en place pendant la période où les champignons n'avaient pas fructifié, afin d'éviter de prendre conscience de leur emplacement et d'introduire un biais. Les champignons ont été décrits en mesurant le chapeau et les diamètres des pieds, la distance verticale du voile au chapeau, la distance par rapport à l'arbre le plus proche et le volume récolté. Les chapeaux mesurés ont été marqués pour éviter les répétitions. Les échantillons ont été ré-examinés chaque semaine pendant la période de fructification. Après quelques années d'expérience, cette méthode a été en grande partie abandonnée car elle était trop chère et demandait trop de temps. Il a été également estimé que la zone d'échantillonnage était bien trop petite pour être correctement représentative de chacune des espèces. Les échantillons ont également été compromis par le prélèvement illégal et le vandalisme, alors que les collecteurs légitimes étaient quant à eux intimidés et ne pouvaient pas récolter normalement les placettes. De plus, des rapports météorologiques hors-site n'ont pas correspondu aux rendements. Après cette expérience il a été décidé de changer la méthodologie de l'échantillonnage. L'expérience japonaise a suggéré que le contrôle du shiro (corps individuel de mycélium ou «château» en japonais) serait utile pour des champignons Matsutake. Cependant, cette méthodologie est très consommatrice de temps et pourrait seulement être considérée pour des travaux de recherche et pas pour le contrôle ordinaire. Deux faits nouveaux dans le domaine de la méthodologie découlent de cette première expérience.

Il est proposé que le contrôle au niveau régional devrait être réalisé par des énumérateurs volontaires, choisis parmi les cueilleurs locaux et une proposition dans ce sens a été faite. Le plan consiste à utiliser des permis de récolte exclusifs, attribués comme motivation aux volontaires pour qu'ils fassent des relevés détaillés de la récolte à partir de placettes d'échantillons marquées. L'échantillonnage stratifié systématique au niveau régional doit être mis en _uvre pour choisir des sites de contrôle locaux et les données utilisées pour étudier les relations entre la gestion forestière et la productivité des champignons. Le suivi des sites doit être contrôlé par le personnel du Service forestier. Le programme est destiné à être volontaire et basé sur une collaboration flexible et décentralisée, encourageant l'appropriation volontaire du programme.

Pour le Matsutake, une approche cartographique a été adoptée avec des champignons cartographiés en utilisant des arbres de référence, qui sont localisés au moyen du GPS (Global Positioning System). Dans un groupe de champignons, on inclut les champignons situés à une distance inférieure à 0.5 m, la distance entre les groupes étant d'au moins 2 m. Les groupes délimités ont subi des traitements de récolte expérimentaux et ont été contrôlés par le personnel forestier, avec la coopération des cueilleurs locaux qui ont conservé les zones alentours bien exploitées, de manière à décourager d'autres cueilleurs opportunistes. La méthode de sélection des arbres de référence n'est pas décrite, mais cette méthode semble être un moyen efficace pour échantillonner.

La recherche est toujours en cours pour trouver un protocole adapté au suivi des populations de champignons. Un manuel décrivant l'expérience actuelle et présentant les meilleurs conseils est en cours de préparation. (Source: Extrait de la publication Évaluation des ressources en produits forestiers non ligneux. Experiénce et principes de biométrie. Produits Forestiers non Ligneux no 13, FAO.)


Mushroom Web sites

Many links to a wide variety of Web sites on mushrooms can be found at:

Fungal Jungal

The Fungal Jungal is the Web site of the Western Montana Mycological Association (WMMA). The WMMA mission statement is to educate people further about fungi, edible and otherwise, encourage sustainable and responsible mushroom harvest, and preserve mushroom habitat.


A Web site on predicting edible mushroom productivity using forest carbon allocation modelling and immunoassays of ectomycorrhizae.



L'Afrique sur le marché mondial de produits en rotin: une place dérisoire

Le rotin est incontestablement l'un des plus anciens et importants PFNL qui font l'objet d'un commerce international de grande envergure. Son commerce mondial est évalué à près de 6,5 milliards $EU et implique presque tous les continents. Dans ce sous-secteur, comme dans bien d'autres domaines enviables, l'Afrique se contente des derniers rôles.

L'Asie du Sud-Est a elle seule contrôle plus de deux tiers environ des exportations des produits finis en rotin estimées à plus de 3 milliards $EU par an au cours des années 1990. Les principaux pays concernés sont l'Indonésie, les Philippines, la Malaisie, la Thaïlande, la Chine, le Singapour et la République démocratique populaire lao. En guise d'illustration, on peut retenir que les Philippines (moins de 100 000 km² de forêts) contribuent pour près 250 millions $EU à ce commerce, soit environ 16 pour cent de la valeur de leurs exportations globales annuelles. À côté de ces géants, les ténors africains (le Nigéria, le Cameroun, le Ghana, la République démocratique du Congo, la Guinée équatoriale, la République-Unie de Tanzanie) sont pratiquement invisibles. Le Cameroun par exemple (plus de 200 000 km² de forêts) réalise des exportations annuelles d'articles en rotin de moins de 50 000 $EU environ, soit largement moins de 0,5 pour cent de ses exportations totales. Au niveau des importations, les pays africains tout comme les ténors asiatiques suscités ne comptent presque pas, la consommation alimentée par les flux internationaux étant essentiellement la chasse gardée des pays développés (les importations annuelles d'articles en rotin et matières proches au cours des années 1990 représentaient au Cameroun environ 25 000 $EU contre plus de 30 millions $EU pour les Pays-Bas, par exemple). Compte tenu de la faiblesse des revenus en Afrique, c'est la quasi-absence des pays africains au niveau des exportations qui suscite le plus de curiosité à première vue. Ceci d'autant plus que l'Afrique dispose de quelques atouts potentiels dont une importante disponibilité de matière première, le faible coût de la main-d'_uvre et la proximité géographique des grands marchés de consommation européens et nord américains.

Ces avantages relatifs de l'Afrique par rapport à L'Asie du Sud-Est sont malheureusement annihilés par une foule de lacunes techniques, organisationnelles et commerciales. La faiblesse des facteurs de production est l'une des lacunes les plus handicapantes. Il s'agit notamment des techniques et d'outillages rudimentaires ou archaïques, de l'effectif d'intervenants réduits (deux personnes en moyenne par unité de transformation contre plusieurs dizaines aux Philippines, par exemple), des fonds de roulement très modestes (inférieur à 50 $EU par unité de transformation) et d'un manque de formation technico-commerciale appropriée pour les acteurs. Cette faiblesse est à l'origine d'une production de qualité quelconque ou médiocre (retraits, fissures, fentes, traces de brûlures, attaques biologiques, imitation servile au niveau du dessin). La faiblesse des facteurs de production entraîne aussi la fabrication des articles en quantités réduites (au Cameroun il faut en moyenne trois à quatre mois à une unité de transformation pour exécuter une commande de 500 petits paniers tandis qu'aux Philippines ce délai ne peut en aucun cas excéder une semaine pour une unité de transformation de taille moyenne) et non uniformes. Ce qui est contraire aux exigences des circuits de ravitaillement et de distribution moderne débouchant sur une consommation de masse.

L'absence de filière d'exportation bien établie constitue aussi un handicap à grande portée. Les canaux de ventes à l'extérieur des pays producteurs du continent africain sont pour la plupart très occasionnels ou sporadiques et sont le fait des étrangers de passage, des organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) et des organisations caritatives internationales. Enfin, le manque de marketing est aussi une des origines de la position plus que marginale des pays africains sur le marché mondial d'articles en rotin.

Face aux pays africains noyés dans ces lacunes, on retrouve des pays de l'Asie du Sud-Est qui, depuis plusieurs décennies, ont mis en place un puissant arsenal de production et de commercialisation dynamique et efficace fait d'outils, de techniques, de mesures et autres stratégies efficients:

• un dispositif apte à faire face aux fortes demandes dans des délais courts tout en offrant des articles standardisés et de qualité satisfaisante;

• développement de «joint ventures», mise en place ou utilisation des structures de promotion efficientes (ASMINDO, CITEM, l'IKEA) et création des circuits d'exportation contrôlés par des professionnels;

• des mesures d'appui des gouvernements (prêts à des taux favorables, exemptions fiscales, aide à la formation, transfert de technologies) et des rapports étroits avec des ONG et ATO du Nord qui font la promotion des articles asiatiques pour diverses raisons.

Au regard de la situation ainsi présentée, les pays africains doivent nécessairement opérer une véritable révolution dans le sous-secteur rotin pour espérer tirer parti de la forte demande mondiale de produits finis de ce PFNL. Les partenaires des pays africains intéressés par la situation des populations forestières devraient les aider à développer cette activité compte tenu des potentialités de ce PFNL en matière d'emploi, de lutte contre la pauvreté et de conservation des forêts. (Contribution de: Louis Defo, CML, Université de Leiden (bourse WOTRO), Pays-Bas et Université de Yaoundé, BP 8297, Yaoundé, Cameroun; mél.:

FAO and rattan

Rattan proceedings

The proceedings of the Expert Consultation on Rattan Development, which was held in Rome from 5 to 7 December 2000, have now been published in FAO's Non-Wood Forest Products series as Rattan. Current research issues and prospects for conservation and sustainable development.

Printed copies of this publication are available through FAO's Sales and Marketing Group (; the electronic version is available at:


Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people trade in or use rattan for purposes ranging from furniture - the best-known rattan product - to walking sticks, umbrella handles, baskets, matting, hats, ropes, birdcages, fish traps and numerous other local uses. However, rattan resources (which comprise some 600 species), throughout their natural range in the tropical forests of Asia and Africa, are being depleted through overexploitation, poor forest management and loss of forest habitats.

A recent issue of Unasylva spotlights this important but perhaps underappreciated non-wood forest product. The articles in this issue have all been adapted from papers presented at the Expert Consultation on Rattan Development, which was held in Rome from 5 to 7 December 2000 to assess the current status of the resource and its utilization, identify the major issues facing the rattan industry and formulate recommendations for promoting economic and technical cooperation for the development of rattan globally. The complete papers have been published in the proceedings.

A problem underlined by the expert consultation, and voiced by many authors in this issue, is the absence of reliable statistics on rattan at all levels. National forest inventories, with few exceptions, do not include rattan, and quantitative information on the resource base and volume and value of trade is scarce.

Collection of statistics and exchange of information on rattan are among the main objectives of the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), established in 1997 with a global mandate to promote the development of bamboo and rattan for socio-economic and environmental well-being. In addition, international agencies such as the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and FAO deal with rattan, either through specific programmes or indirectly in their livelihood support programmes.

Given its economic, ecological and socio-cultural importance to a large number of people in the world, there is an urgent need to ensure a sustainable supply of rattan. Attention to property rights, quality improvement, control of illegal harvesting, market information, prevention of post-harvest losses and supportive tax policies are recommended to help improve benefits to harvesters and producers, providing an incentive to maintain the resource sustainably. (Source: Unaysylva , No. 205.)

Development of rattan for edible shoots in the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Although globally rattan is seen principally as a cane-producing plant, in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (and also in northeastern Thailand) rattans also supply edible shoot tips. These are consumed locally or exported to Southeast Asian communities in France, the United States and elsewhere.

The trade in edible rattan shoots from wild plants is large, unquantified and essentially unregulated. Daemonorops jenkinsiana thrives in the north of the country in areas of shifting cultivation and appears to be the main source of shoots for the markets there. Its profusely clustering clumps survive fire, deforestation and repeated shoot removal very well. The cane of this species is not highly sought after, so trade in its shoots has little effect on overall commercial cane production. However, in some places valuable cane-producing species are targeted, and this trade is of greater concern.

Rattan plantation development is beginning to get under way in the country, and plantations for edible shoot production are a dynamically growing subsector. Small-scale nursery trials have been made for six or seven species with commercial potential. Only one or two very small trials of plantations for cane production have begun, but one species (Calamus tenuis) has already become a major commercial success in plantations for edible shoot production. Many fields begin producing saleable shoots only a year or so after planting and can then be harvested monthly for many years thereafter, offering a return that is competitive with rice production. Rattan prefers sites where regular flooding would damage most other crops.

In the Lao People's Democratic Republic the techniques for rattan cultivation for edible shoot production were first developed in 1994, inspired by large-scale commercial planting in Thailand of three species (mainly Calamus viminalis with some Calamus siamensis and C. tenuis ) which began three years earlier. It is estimated that more than 50 planters have planted areas of more than 100 ha in at least five provinces.

The outlook for expanding edible shoot production is much better than that for cane production. There is a large domestic market, and the Lao People's Democratic Republic competes only with Thailand in supplying the export market. Furthermore, planting is spreading rapidly without the need of special policy support because, unlike cane, shoots of C. tenuis offer a rapid and proven return on the open market.

The edible shoot sector seems to be the most promising area for support of rattan development. The Lao Forestry Research Centre and Oxford University and Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom have drawn up a programme for which funds are currently being sought.

The shoot subsector could also offer some spin-off benefits for the cane sector. The plantations have little potential for conversion to cane production because the rattan is grown in open sun with no available climbing supports. However, the abundance of cheap seedlings and the widespread expertise in growing these species will make cane plantations easier to establish if economic conditions become attractive in the future. (Source: Unasylva , No. 205.)

For more information, please contact:

Mr Tom Evans, Researcher,
The Darwin Initiative,
Lao Rattan Research Project,
Oxford Forestry Institute,
Oxford, UK.