One strategy to address the issues raised by the SWOT analysis is a coherent set of policies for maintaining or increasing biodiversity and farmer prosperity through the systemic development of Small and Medium business Enterprises (SME's) which would be owned by farmers and be assisted by professionals to access the national and international market with high quality products. To assure high quality, transparent control and certification procedures and infratructures have to be developed and implemented. The development of organic production systems is one such avenue that not only would produce environmental benefits, but could also generate value-added income. The latter requires the establishment of adequate infrastructure for training, production, processing, certification and marketing.
It would appear from the initiatives of the Forest Department described in Section 5 that creating opportunities for cultivation of MPs is not enough. Similarly, the collection process may lead to non-beneficial or damaging consequences for many parts of the local community members and for biodiversity. Hence, there is a need for a coherent, transparent, and equitable process from cultivators/collectors to marketing.Thisprocess has to be scalable so that benefits are not confined to a limited geographical area only.
In this context, the Horticulture Department is currently considering a plan centred on the provision of Medicinal, Aromatic and Dye Plants (MADP) to national and international markets. A brief description of this initiative is cited below.
Title: Organic Production of Under-utilized Medicinal, Aromatic, and Natural Dye Plants (MADP) for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods
This plan will evolve a paradigm based on fair trade practices and participatory synergy in research, education, communications, production practices, and international marketing. Central to all this is the principle of organic practices for the generation of MADP products. The participation of local institutions will be used to create the reality of organic MADP production. Local legislation will be adapted to suit the requirement to facilitate certification, labeling and traceability. The bottom line outcome is that there will be significant and net contribution to income generation and food security through crop diversification, to improved farming and resource management practices which will be transferable also to other crops, and to improved quality of natural resources such as water and soils, as well as to species conservation and management. As this plan intends to take care of the livelihood of those already engaged in the collection process, it will build the production component into an agro-forestry model such that the place of collection will be made also the place of production. The knowledge and experience of local individuals will add to the process of production.
The establishment of viable economic enterprises is essential for the long-term success of the project. Key partnerships will be formed to build the necessary economic, management, quality control and marketing know-how to operate successfully at a national and international level. This will be effected through small and medium enterprises which will be technically fully supported by handholding arrangements with appropriate participating institutions.
The project is expected to bring direct benefits to the pilot communities through developing capacities, strengthening self-help groups and stabilizing or improving the natural resource base for collection and cultivation of MADPs and through improving water, soil and health conditions through elimination of exposure to agrochemicals. Through lower input needs, resulting in lower credit needs, lower financial risk and dependence on lenders, income and credit access of small- to medium-size farmers and processors will improve resulting in employment opportunities for women and young people, the latter particularly through value-added products. This is expected to increase production and income stability and therefore also food security for the whole community.
A principal characteristic of this project is its consistent application of an integrated system approach to all layers of the project commencing with the ecosystem and typical farm system approach of organic production methods, and extending to the mutual control/certification/ traceability system, while building self-supporting community systems through Farmer Field Schools and the participation of appropriate NGOs for developing transparent multi-owner trade entities.
Survey policy and strategy:
This will include issues such as surveys of available local knowledge and project impact; the development of participatory self help groups of villagers, researchers, and extensionists; participation of Government in making the necessary legal and infrastructure changes and continuing assessment of costs and benefits, and the development of policy to manage the relationship between collection and cultivation with community support will be the ingredients of this activity.
Training and research:
Training of trainers, farmers, collectors and processors will be an important feature of this work. Data based measures such as creating a Stock Map of available MADP's, research activities that optimise methods and feed them back into the field in the form of training measures, will be important constituents.
Production and marketing:
A system for quality assured products certified to international standards and the development of farmer-centred institutions to aid the marketing process will be important issues in this context.
Recording, evaluation and improvement through scientific examination of traditional production and process measures; assessment of the impact on biodiversity and the consequential development of measures to enhance biodiversity will be essential elements of this measure.