Exploring African biodiversity for new natural products
International Conference on Tree and Nut Crops
The Nature and Culture of Forests: Implications of Diversity for Sustainability, Trade, and Certification
Second International Workshop on the Ecology, Physiology and Cultivation of Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms
Ways to Enhance the Production and Export Capacities of Developing Countries of Agriculture and Food Products, including Niche Products, such as Environmentally Preferable Products
Balkans Herbal Forum
First International Symposium and Exposition on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development of the Amazon Basin Countries - AMAZON ECOTOUR 2001
Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin - linking Science, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples
Forestry and Forest Products Research (CFFPR 2001) - "Tropical Forestry Research in the New Millennium: Meeting Demands and Challenges"
Biodiversity of Guyana: a global perspective for the future
Indigenous Peoples and Forest Management in Fennoscandia and Canada
Non-Wood Forest Products Inventory Guidelines: Tools for Improved Monitoring and Evaluation
Special Forest Products: Mushrooms, Medicinals and Huckleberries
Participatory Approaches in Forestry and Natural Resources Development Projects (PARTEF)
Nature and the Global Marketplace
The second Rothamsted International Biomarket. Bioproducts from plants and microbes
Working Landscapes in the Midwest: Creating Sustainable Futures for Agriculture, Forestry, and Communities
Second International Training Program on Sustainable NTFP Management for Rural Development
Creating a Common Agenda for Biodiversity-Conserving Resource Use
Native Plants: Propagation and Restoration Strategies
Participatory monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity
FAO/IPCC/CIFOR Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-related Definitions for Use by Various Stakeholders
Sustaining livelihoods and biodiversity in the new millennium
Second International Workshop on Participatory Forestry in Africa
Working Forests in the Tropics: Conservation through Sustainable Management
International Workshop on Shea Processing and Trade across Africa (Atelier International sur le Traitement, Valorisation et Commerce de la Filière Karité à travers de l'Afrique)
Capturing the Value of Ecosystem Services: Developing Markets for Environmental Assets
"Renew Your Relationship with Mother Earth" - 1st Annual Aboriginal Heritage Garden Conference
Forest Valuation and Innovative Financing Mechanisms for conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests

Exploring African biodiversity for new natural products

Rome, Italy

9-11 April 2001

This three-day workshop was jointly organized by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) Rome (Department of International Activities), CNR Porano (Institute of Agro-Forestry), CNR Portici (Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Breeding) and the Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was funded by CNR, and three United States NIH (FIC, National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).

The main objective of the workshop, which brought together some 70 participants from 14 countries, was to explore the strengths and needs of institutions towards the formation of a partnership to build natural products capacities in Africa and to promote the conservation and sustainable use of African biodiversity through an international network of institutions based in Africa, Italy and the United States.

Sessions and working groups covered, among other subjects, African plant diversity, new products from medicinal plants (bioprospecting), property rights and local economic benefits.

For more information, please contact:

Sven Walter, FAO NWFP Programme.
E-mail: Sven.Walter@fao.org

International Conference on Tree and Nut Crops

Perth, Australia

13-20 April 2001

The conference was hosted at the University of Western Australia State by the Western Australian Tree Crops Center and cofunded by the Australian Nut and Tree Crop Association, the Ministry of Agriculture and some private companies dealing with nuts and tree crops. The main objectives of the Conference were to increase awareness of the importance of tree crops and nuts for food production; to provide and share information and understanding on their production, processing and marketing and their business environment, and to initiate and strengthen collaboration in the sector between public and private organizations in the various countries.

The conference brought together some 100 participants from all around the world to share their knowledge and the latest new developments in the tree crop industry, in addition to "virtual" participation and presentations given by some Californian tree farmers through video-conferencing and Internet-downloaded ppt presentations. Participants represented a wide variety of organizations from the non-governmental, public and, particularly, the private sector (from farmers to representatives of international food companies). The conference consisted of two days with 22 plenary presentations, followed by three full days of presentations in smaller subgroups on 20 specific topics such as: carob, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamias, neem, sandalwoods, NWFPs, beverages, gums, truffles-host trees, etc. On two post-conference tours, participants could get an insight into the fast expanding and widely diversified nut and tree crop sector of Western Australia (with climate ecozones from tropical to temperate regions).

Mr Paul Vantomme, Forestry Officer (NWFP) represented FAO at the conference. He was invited by the organizers to present a keynote address during the opening plenary session on FAO's activities on NWFPs; to act as chairperson of the NWFP subgroup; and to present a paper on gum arabic in the "Gums" subgroup.

The dynamics in the nut and tree crop sectors of countries represented, particularly California (and to a lesser degree also Australia, Chile and South Africa), were impressive: more than 260 different tree crop species (mainly for nuts, fruits, oils, medicinals and aromatics) are already commercially farmed (while at the same time most of these species are still gathered from wild sources in their area of origin - or have even become commercially extinct). For many developing countries who are exporting tree-based NWFPs gathered from wild sources, it is important to note that many of their products might soon become economically and quality-wise uncompetitive as against those tree crops produced on a large scale and by highly mechanized tree farms in developed countries (such as Australia, Chile, United States [California and Hawaii]).

The conclusions of the conference regarding NWFPs indicated the need for better information on the potential and (germplasm) availability of non-wood forest tree resources in relation to species currently used (and the assessment of the potential of new species for domestication), better availability and access to market and marketing information for producers in developing countries, and particularly the relevance and importance of good labelling and certification schemes on NWFPs; as well as training and networking on the management, processing and marketing of NWFPs.

For more information, please contact:

David Noël, Director,
Tree Crops Centre,
Acotanc-2001 Conference Secretariat,
PO Box 27, Subiaco,
WA 6008,
Australia.
Fax: +61 8 93881852;
e-mail: davidn@AOI.com.au;
www.AOI.com.au/acotanc

The Nature and Culture of Forests: Implications of Diversity for Sustainability, Trade, and Certification

Vancouver, Canada

8-12 May 2001

The conference objective was to address how diversity in cultural values shapes the operative concept of respect for nature and impacts decision-making in forest policy. The following topics were featured: a) Diversity in the nature of forests; b) Plurality in the culture of forests; and c) Variability in approaches of certification and management.

For more information, please contact:

Sandra Schinnerl,
International Programs,
Faculty of Forestry,
UBC, 2611-2424 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4,
Canada.
Fax: +1 604 8228645.

Second International Workshop on the Ecology, Physiology and Cultivation of Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms

Christchurch, New Zealand

3-6 July 2001

For more information, please contact:

Crop & Food Research Ltd,
Private Bag 4704, Christchurch,
New Zealand.
Fax: +64 3 3252074;
e-mail: rcgminfo@crop.cri.nz;
www.crop.cri.nz/whats_on/mushroom_conf/Index.htm

Ways to Enhance the Production and Export Capacities of Developing Countries of Agriculture and Food Products, including Niche Products, such as Environmentally Preferable Products

Geneva, Switzerland

15-18 July 2001

This International Expert Meeting, organized by the Trade, Environment and Development Section of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was attended by more than 80 participants from about 40 countries and included mostly staff from Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva, senior government officials and technical experts from various international agencies, and representatives of NGOs and from the private sector, mainly from fair-trade agencies, bioproduct distributors and from organic food certification agencies. Mr Paul Vantomme, Forestry Officer (NWFP) represented FAO at this meeting and made a presentation on the role of edible NWFPs as potential organic products for developing countries to export to niche markets in developed countries

The focus of the meeting was to discuss and exchange experiences on enhancing the production and trade of agricultural products, with particular emphasis on organic food products from developing countries for international niche markets, such as for biotrade and for fair-trade schemes. Key issues reviewed during the meeting focused mainly on the trade potential of niche markets for food products from developing countries and on their appropriate certification and labelling schemes, including their required costs, implementation and monitoring issues, and also the mutual understanding and recognizance of different organic certification schemes; on their perceived role as trade barriers by the developing countries and on the need for reliable statistics on production and trade in organic products.

It appeared during the meeting that edible NWFPs, such as mushrooms, wild honey, nuts, bamboo shoots, have considerable potential at niche markets for organic, biotrade or fair-trade outlets. However, much work is still needed for the appropriate inclusion of "wild" gathered food products into the existing organic certification schemes, and recommendations in this regard were made by the expert meeting to the certification bodies. Participants were highly interested in learning from successful experiences on NWFP utilization and market promotion from developing countries and looked to FAO for information sharing and for exploring ways of collaboration and support.

Documents for the meeting are available online (www.unctad.org/en/special/c1em15do.htm).

For more information, please contact:

UNCTAD,
External Relations and Communications,
Palais des Nations, 1211
Geneva 10,
Switzerland.
Fax: +41 22 9070043;
e-mail: ers@unctad.org;
www.unctad.org/index.htm

Balkans Herbal Forum

Portoroz, Slovenia

16-20 September 2001

The International Finance Corporation through Southeast Europe Enterprise Development (SEED) is committed to help rebuild what was once a thriving and important industry in southeastern Europe. The Herbal Business Forum organized by SEED was to be the first time in recent years that all the stakeholders involved in this sector had an opportunity to sit together to map out the future of the Balkan herbal industry in southeastern Europe. Leading regional suppliers attended the forum alongside some of Western Europe's herbal manufacturers and importers. The meeting formed a platform from which to launch a number of long-term initiatives designed to redevelop the sector in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.

Southeastern Europe has for centuries been a producer and consumer of medicinal plants and herbal medicines. The varied climate and geography of the region enables a vast array of temperate and Mediterranean plants to be grown. A rich medical and engineering tradition has moreover encouraged the manufacturing of a wide range of phytomedicines, flavourings, perfumes and cosmetic products. During the 1970s and 1980s the former Yugoslavia supplied medicinal and aromatic products to a host of leading Western European, American and Soviet companies.

Political upheavals in recent times have severely disrupted herbal gathering, cultivation, manufacturing and trade within the region. Some of the most important medicinal plants are severely endangered as a result of overharvesting and lack of appropriate environmental legislation. Through this forum SEED helped to initiate the reintegration of the region's herbal producers into the mainstream of Western Europe's herbal industry.

FAO was represented at the meeting by Mr Peter Griffee who works on medicinal and aromatic plants in the Crop and Grassland Service of the Plant Production and Protection Division.

For more information, please contact:

Chris Miller, SEED -
Southeast Europe Enterprise Development,
Hamdije Kresevljakovica 19/IV,
71000 Sarajevo,
Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Fax: +387 33 217762;
e-mail: cmiller3@ifc.org;
www.ifc.org/sme/html/seed.html

First International Symposium and Exposition on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development of the Amazon Basin Countries - AMAZON ECOTOUR 2001

Manaus, Brazil

24-27 September 2001

For more information, please contact:

Instituto Ambiental Biospfera,
Rua Uruguaina, 39 - Bloco A -Grupo 2401 B;
Centro - Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil 20050-093.
Fax: +55 21 2210155;
www.ecotourenglish.com.br.ms

Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin - linking Science, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples

Cusco, Peru

24-28 September 2001

For more information, please contact:

Sigrun Lange,
International Network for the Conservation of Biological & Cultural Diversity (INKA e.V.),
Gravelottestrasse 6,
81667 Munich,
Germany.
Fax: +49 (0)89 45911920;
e-mail: Sigrun.Lange@inka.ev.de;
www.inka-ev.de/congress2001.htm ;

or

Eliana Rivera,
Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas,
Av. Tullumayo 465,
Cusco,
Peru.
Fax: +51 84 241319;
erivera@apu.cbc.org.pe;
www.cbc.org.pe

Forestry and Forest Products Research (CFFPR 2001) - "Tropical Forestry Research in the New Millennium: Meeting Demands and Challenges"

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

1-3 October 2001

The themes of this international conference were: sustainable forest management (SFM); biodiversity and the environment; processing and utilization of forest resources (wood products and non-wood products); forest plantation; biotechnology; forest policies; forest economics, investment opportunities and potential for growth; information technology (IT) in forestry; and commercialization of forestry R&D.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Shamsudin Ibrahim or Ms Safiah Yusoff,
The Secretariat, Conference on Forestry and Forest Products Research 2001 (CFFPR 2001),
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM),
Kepong, 52109 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia.
Fax: +60 3 62779643/62767753;
e-mail: sham@frim.gov.my
or
safiah@frim.gov.my;
www.frim.gov.my/100years/CFFPR2001.htm

Biodiversity of Guyana: a global perspective for the future

Georgetown Guyana

7-13 October 2001

For more information, please contact:

V.A. Funk,
US National Herbarium,
NMNH,
Smithsonian Institution,
MRC 166, Washington,
DC 20560-0166,
USA.
Fax: +1 202 7862563;
e-mail: funkv@nmnh.si.edu;
www.guyana2001.org  

Indigenous Peoples and Forest Management in Fennoscandia and Canada

Jokkmokk, Sweden

10-12 October 2001

The focus of this conference, which brought together indigenous representatives, environmental groups, governmental and intergovernmental bodies and industry, was on forest use, land rights and indigenous strategies for sustainable development. The programme highlighted market-based and legal instruments emphasizing forest certification schemes.

For more information, please contact:

E-mail: lisa.blind@same.net;
www.sapmi.se/forestconference

Non-Wood Forest Products Inventory Guidelines: Tools for Improved Monitoring and Evaluation

Lusaka, Zambia

15-17 October 2001

The overall objective of this expert consultation was to develop practical inventory guidelines for resources providing NWFPs, in order to assist African countries in achieving sustainable forest management.

For further information, please contact:

Mr François Ndeckere-Ziangba,
Forestry Officer (NWFP),
Forest Products Division,
Forestry Department,
FAO.
Fax: +39 0657055317;
e-mail: Francois.Ndeckere@fao.org

[Please see under Special Features for more information on this expert consultation.]

Special Forest Products: Mushrooms, Medicinals and Huckleberries

Spokane, Washington, USA

15-17 October 2001

For more information, please contact:

Richard Zabel,
Western Forestry and Conservation Association,
4033 SW Canyon Road,
Portland, Oregon 97221,
USA.
Fax: +1 503 2262515;
e-mail: richard@westernforestry.org;
www.westernforestry.org

Participatory Approaches in Forestry and Natural Resources Development Projects (PARTEF)

Los Baños, Philippines

23 October-3 December 2001

For more information, please contact:

The Director, Training Center for Tropical Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability (TREES),
University of the Philippines Los Baños,
College of Forestry and Natural Resources,
College, Laguna,
Philippines.
Fax: +63 49 5363340;
e-mail: trees@laguna.net

Nature and the Global Marketplace

London, UK

24-25 October 2001

Hosted by Forest Trends and the Katoomba Group.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Jessica Rice,
Forest Trends,
1826 Jefferson Place NW,
Washington,
DC 20007,
USA.
Fax: +1 202 2983014;
e-mail: jrice@forest-trends.org;
www.forest-trends.org

The second Rothamsted International Biomarket. Bioproducts from plants and microbes

Harpenden, UK

7-9 November 2001

The Biomarket brought together entrepreneurial groups from around the world to help initiate successful partnerships between those who are involved in the research, development and commercialization of innovative products and services derived from plant and microbial sources.

For more information, please contact:

Rothamsted BioMarket,
IACR-Rothamsted,
Harpenden AL5 21Q,
UK.
Fax: +44 (0)1582 760981;
e-mail: biomarket@bbsrc.ac.uk;
www.biomarket.iacr.ac.uk

Working Landscapes in the Midwest: Creating Sustainable Futures for Agriculture, Forestry, and Communities

Delevan, Wisconsin, USA

8-10 November 2001

A diverse group of Midwest stakeholders came together to organize a Working Landscapes Conference, which explored practices and policies that promote land-based economic activity to sustain families, communities and ecosystems, while also providing multiple benefits to society.

For more information, please contact:

Dr R. Warren Flint,
Five E's Unlimited,
Delaware Ave.,
SW, Washington,
DC 20024,
USA.
Fax: +1 202 4882708;
e-mail: rwflint@eeeee.net;
www.eeeee.net;
www.SustainableDevelopmentSolutions.com

Second International Training Program on Sustainable NTFP Management for Rural Development

Madhya Pradesh, India

26 November-13 December 2001

Fifteen participants from five different countries attended this three-week training course. Resource persons were drawn from accomplished community forestry practitioners as well as academia belonging to different forestry organizations within the country.

Training involved situational analysis of the NTFP management and rural development scenario (both micro and macro) and an intensive coverage of contemporary issues related to NTFP production, processing and trade. The participants were also trained in various tools and techniques for NTFP resource assessment, enterprise feasibility assessment and NTFP-based livelihood generation. During the field visits interspersed throughout the course, participants were taken to nine project sites in the temperate and the tropical forests of the country. It was here that the participants got an opportunity to test their newly acquired knowledge and skills in actual field situations.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Prodyut Bhattacharya,
Faculty, Ecosystem Management and Technical Forestry,
Indian Institute of Forest Management,
PO Box 357,
Nehru Nagar,
Bhopal 462003,
India.
Fax: +91 755 772878(O);
e-mail: prodyut@iifm.org
www.iifm.org  

Creating a Common Agenda for Biodiversity-Conserving Resource Use

Tholey-Theley, Germany

9-11 December 2001

This workshop was organized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) on behalf of the Fund for Sustainable Biodiversity Management. The workshop's objectives were to: i) create a common agenda among participating organizations; and ii) initiate one or more networks of organizations to elaborate further and implement the common agenda. Twenty-seven participants attended the workshop from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Bernward Geier,
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements,
Ökozentrum Imsbach,
D-66636 Tholey-Theley,
Germany.
Fax: +49 6853 919899;
e-mail: headoffice@ifoam.org

Native Plants: Propagation and Restoration Strategies

Eugene, Oregon, USA

12-13 December 2001

This meeting was cosponsored by the Nursery Technology Cooperative, Oregon State University and the Western Forestry and Conservation Association.

For more information, please contact:

Richard Zabel,
Western Forestry and Conservation Association,
4033 SW Canyon Road,
Portland,
Oregon 97221,
USA.
Fax: +1 503 2262515;
e-mail: richard@westernforestry.org;
www.westernforestry.org

Participatory monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity

Oxford, UK

7-25 January 2002

The European Tropical Forestry Research Network and the Environmental Change Institute convened this workshop to take stock of existing knowledge in this field, communicate findings to decision-makers and provide recommendations for biodiversity monitoring and evaluation which benefits rural people and national level biodiversity managers.

All stakeholders who use, manage or conserve biodiversity assess it in some way. Local people have different objectives and ways of doing this, from policy-makers and government departments responsible for commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Improved understanding of each other's approaches to evaluating biodiversity can have benefits for rural communities, governments and intermediary organizations.

Participatory monitoring and evaluation of biodiversity involves different stakeholders working together to assess biodiversity, which can help scientists to support local people in managing biodiversity, or local people to contribute to national biodiversity monitoring processes.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Anna Lawrence,
Environmental Change Institute,
5 South Parks Road,
Oxford OX1 3UB,
UK.
Fax: +44 1865 281202;
e-mail: anna.lawrence@eci.ox.ac.uk;
www.eci.ox.ac.uk;
www.etfrn.org/etfrn/workshop/biodiversity/index.html

FAO/IPCC/CIFOR Expert Meeting on Harmonizing Forest-related Definitions for Use by Various Stakeholders

Rome, Italy

23-25 January 2002

FAO, jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), organized this expert meeting to review and harmonize forest-related definitions.

Much global or regional information on forest resources is derived from national data. FAO has therefore developed forest-related definitions for national inputs to globally aggregated forest assessments and outlook studies. The IPCC has developed forest-related definitions for use in issues common to land use, land use change and forestry and climate change. Other organizations have developed other definitions for other purposes, such as monitoring biological diversity in forests. There is a need to improve the compatibility and consistency of definitions in order to permit comparability and thus to improve the quality and usefulness of forest information, increase the synergy among organizations, and use scarce resources more effectively for information monitoring, assessment and reporting.

There is a need for globally - and regionally - aggregated information on forest resources and forest ecosystems to:

• define the concept of, and monitor progress towards sustainable forest management;

• assess the role of forests in climate change;

• assess the attributes and changes affecting forest biomes with respect to biological diversity;

• analyse the social, economic and environmental roles of forests.

The information required differs between users, but with consistent and comparable definitions it could be exchanged between different users.

The consultation:

• identified key forest-related terms whose definitions are critical to international processes;

• reviewed biome-specific forest definitions as well as those for the terms "forest degradation" and "devegetation";

• where possible, agreed on the definitions of these key terms;

• made recommendations for consideration by relevant policy processes with respect to key definitions and their application;

• planned further steps to harmonize forest-related definitions.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Wulf Killmann, Director, Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Fax: +39 0657055618;

e-mail: wulf.killmann@fao.org

Sustaining livelihoods and biodiversity in the new millennium

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

12-15 February 2002

For more information, please contact:

Devin Bartley, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome 00100, Italy.

E-mail: devin.bartley@fao.org

Second International Workshop on Participatory Forestry in Africa

Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania

18-23 February 2002

For more information, please contact:

Mr Dominique Reeb, FAO, Community Forestry Unit, Forestry Department, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Fax: +39 06570555;

e-mail: arusha-2002@fao.org

Working Forests in the Tropics: Conservation through Sustainable Management

Gainesville, Florida, USA

25-26 February 2002

Tropical forests sustain a wealth of biodiversity, provide a wide range of ecosystem services and products, and support livelihoods for millions of people. Tropical forest conservation is highly complex, not only because these forests perform so many different functions, but also because of the variety of stakeholders involved. Since less than 10 percent of the world's tropical forests are likely to be preserved as legally protected areas, conservation of the remaining 90 percent will depend on the ability of stakeholders to make the products and services these "working forests" provide appear competitive with alternative land use options.

This conference was conceived as a vehicle for identifying opportunities to make that happen, and obstacles that successful efforts will need to avoid or overcome.

For more information, please contact:

Sharon Borneman,
Conference Coordinator,
IFAS Office of Conferences and Institutes,
University of Florida Leadership and Education Foundation,
Inc., PO Box 110750,
Gainesville,
FL 32611-0750,
USA.
Fax: +1 352 3929734;
e-mail: spborneman@mail.ifas.ufl.edu  

International Workshop on Shea Processing and Trade across Africa (Atelier International sur le Traitement, Valorisation et Commerce de la Filière Karité à travers de l'Afrique)

Dakar, Senegal

4-7 March 2002

The workshop was organized by FAO, with support from the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), and in association with the Centre de suivi écologique (CSE), Dakar. The workshop brought together a variety of stakeholders in order to address critical issues of shea processing and trade in Africa. Within FAO, this was a joint undertaking by the NWFP Programme of the Forest Products Division, the Food Quality and Standards Service of the Food and Nutrition Division and the Basic Foodstuffs Service of the Commodities and Trade Division, as well as the Forestry Group from the FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF, Accra, Ghana).

The shea butter tree Vitellaria paradoxa (syn. Butryospermum paradoxum) is a slow-growing fruit-tree which is indigenous to the Sudanic savannah of sub-Saharan Africa. The tree occurs in a narrow band of vegetation extending some 5 000 km, from Senegal in the west to Uganda and Ethiopia in the south and east of the range.

The shea tree provides an annual bounty of nutritious fruit to rural communities during the annual "hungry season". The seeds of the fruit are large kernels with a high percentage of edible oil, known as shea butter, which is a very important nutritional and economic resource for households and communities across the shea parkland savannah.

Shea as a resource has long been the domain of women farmers across the shea parkland. In traditional societies throughout the zone, women are primarily responsible for collection of shea nut, and the processing and marketing of shea butter. Women also control a significant proportion of income from the marketing of shea products - income used primarily to raise families and meet the needs of the household.

The annual yield of the shea tree varies greatly by individual and over time, depending upon factors (both genetic and environmental) which are not yet well understood. Although an estimated 70 percent of the shea kernels collected each year are consumed in the home as shea butter, a significant proportion of the "crop" is currently underutilized owing to population patterns and transport constraints, and by limited profitability to the primary producers.

The export of shea nut from West Africa constitutes a significant proportion of export earnings for some Sahelian economies; for example, it is estimated that shea butter was the third largest export from Burkina Faso throughout the 1980s. Interestingly, local prices for shea products in the eastern range of the shea zone - an area not penetrated by export of the raw material - are nearly twice as high as those in West Africa.

It is estimated that during 2000, some 610 000 tonnes of shea nut were collected across the African shea zone. Of this, approximately 65 000 tonnes were exported - mostly to Europe and Japan - and the remaining 545 000 tonnes processed locally into some 131 000 tonnes of shea butter, the vast majority of this to be consumed as food oil in the producing countries.

While the majority of exported shea nut is processed industrially for use in the food industry, particularly as a cocoa butter equivalent (CBE), the unsaponifiable fraction of shea butter gives it unique therapeutic properties as a treatment for dry or damaged skin. Cosmetic applications form a small, but high-value component of the international market for shea butter.

Traditional processing methods of shea butter extraction are very arduous, requiring significant inputs of female labour, fuelwood and water. Improved technologies for village-level or artisanal extraction of shea butter have been developed since the 1970s, with the objective of improving productivity, and increasing total yield of shea butter through greater efficiency in production.

Some recent rural development programmes have sought to improve production and marketing of shea butter by the primary producers in order to maximize the value-added economic benefits of shea processing at the local level. Complimentary to its consumption as a food oil, economic returns from the production and marketing of shea products also greatly enhance household food security, multiplying nutritional options through increased market access to cereals, pulses and livestock.

Enhanced household incomes from the living shea tree also serve as a direct economic incentive for conservation of the resource at the local level, where most management decisions affecting the environment are made. Given the threat of desertification from the steady encroachment of the Sahel across the northern border of the shea zone, the environmental importance of shea is very significant. In many areas, limited market options for shea products have resulted in wholesale cutting of the tree for production of charcoal - a short-term and low-value product that results in the permanent destruction of the shea resource.

Although the technical constraints of improved shea processing have largely been addressed, issues of product quality control greatly limit the market options of primary producers across the shea zone, and the profitability of village-level shea processing.

The shea butter currently produced by artisanal methods appropriate to the rural areas where shea nut is produced remains highly variable in terms of quality. Although major industrial importers of shea nut state that they would be happy to import more shea butter directly from African producers, persistent problems of quality control have greatly constrained progress towards this objective, and have resulted in lower prices and reduced returns to the primary producers.

Another constraining factor in the optimization of benefits to producers is the general lack of information, communication and networking between producers and other stakeholders throughout the African shea zone. Problems of language and limited access to information exacerbate a situation in which the profitability of shea does not fully benefit its primary producers. Clearly, a regular exchange of market information should be established and made accessible to shea producers across Africa, for the optimal development and long-term sustainability of this important nutritional and economic resource.

This workshop brought together a variety of stakeholders in order to address critical issues of shea processing and trade across the African shea zone. The workshop served the following objectives:

• to bring together all relevant information and to evaluate past experience on processing and marketing of shea nut and shea butter at the local, regional and international levels;

• to identify key constraints and potentials in processing and marketing of shea products at the local, regional and international levels;

• to formulate strategies to enhance processing, utilization and marketing of shea products in a sustainable manner, with recognition of the key role of rural women in shea production, and a focus on reinforcing producer equity through fair trade;

• to identify priority areas of intervention and to synthesize regional action plans for future research and development activities; and

• to disseminate as widely as possible the information gathered and the results produced by the workshop.

Main issues addressed during the workshop included:

• the role of research institutions, state agencies, NGOs and donors, and how their interventions can best assist small-scale producers and facilitate market access;

• the assessment, reliability and renewal of the sources of supply, including issues of management, conservation and research and development of the shea resource;

• development of improved, locally appropriate processing and storage methods and technologies and their transfer to users;

• resource and equipment requirements of rural producers, producer groups and associations;

• organization of small-scale producers, processors and traders, with emphasis on producer equity and ownership by women farmers, the primary producers of the shea resource;

• means to develop local, regional and international markets, including the development of fair trade markets;

• development and diffusion of product quality standards, and techniques of production quality control, for maximum added value in extraction and increased returns to the producer;

• opportunities for national and regional public-private partnerships; and

• networking and cooperation between institutions and individuals in producing countries in the areas of research and development, training, quality control systems, and market information.

The countries represented by workshop participants included: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, the Sudan, Togo and Uganda.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Vantomme, FAO NWFP Programme.

E-mail: Paul.Vanttomme@fao.org

Capturing the Value of Ecosystem Services: Developing Markets for Environmental Assets

London, UK

13-14 March 2002

Hosted by Forest Trends and the Katoomba Group.

For more information, please contact:

Jessica Rice,
Forest Trends,
1050 Potomac Street NW,
Washington, DC 20007,
USA.
Fax: +1 202 2983014;
e-mail: jrice@forest-trends.org;
www.forest-trends.org;
www.katoombagroup.org

"Renew Your Relationship with Mother Earth" - 1st Annual Aboriginal Heritage Garden Conference

New Brunswick, Canada

18-20 March 2002

Hosted by the Aboriginal Heritage Gardens the agenda combines aspects of aboriginal culture, spirituality and NTFPs.

For more information, please contact:

Mario LaPointe,
Best Western Manoir Adelaide Hotel,
385 Adelaide St, Dalhousie,
New Brunswick,
Canada.
Fax: +1 506 6846302;
e-mail: info@aboriginalgardens.com;
www.aboriginalgardens.com/NewFiles/agenda01.html

Forest Valuation and Innovative Financing Mechanisms for conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests

The Hague, the Netherlands

20-21 March 2002

Tropenbos International organized a two-day seminar to discuss myths and reality of forest values, and to support the development and implementation of appropriate financial mechanisms for the conservation and sustainable use of tropical forests.

For more information, please contact:

Jelle Maas, Information Officer,
Tropenbos International,
Seminar 2002,
PO Box 232, 6700 AE,
Wageningen,
the Netherlands.
Fax: +31 317 495520;
e-mail: tropenbos@tropenbos.agro.nl;
www.tropenbos.nl   

 

 


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