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World forestry congress
Importance of NWFPs for food security

World forestry congress

The XII World Forestry Congress, held from 21 to 28 September 2003 in Québec, Canada, attracted 4 061 participants from more than 140 countries. A wide spectrum of issues was considered in the context of the Congress theme, “Forests, source of Life”, and under three programme areas: Forests for people; Forests for the planet; and People and forests in harmony. The final statement represents the views of the Congress, identifies areas of priority concern, and is intended to encourage decisions and action by those involved with various aspects of forests and forestry, and in other related sectors.

XII World Forestry Congress
Final statement
Forests, source of life

“The subject of forests is related to the entire range of environmental and developmental issues and opportunities ...”
(United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992)

Forests are a source of life: for the planet, and for its people.

Québec, Canada
28 September 2003

Final Statement

All societies are dependent on forests and trees, and have responsibilities for biodiversity, climate regulation, clean air, soil and water conservation, food security, wood and non-wood products, energy services, medicines and cultural values.

The Congress is convinced that the needs of the planet and its people can be harmonized, and that forests have enormous potential to make a vital contribution to environmental security, poverty alleviation, social justice, enhancement of human well-being, equity for present and future generations.

The Congress is impressed by the notable progress towards this end by development of principles and practice, concepts and tools; within global and regional treaties and national programmes; through varied partnerships among governments, international organizations, corporations, and non-governmental organizations; and in a variety of activities at the local level, notably those involving communities in ownership, decision-making and management, increasing the scope for enhancing their livelihoods.

At the same time, the Congress is deeply disturbed that permanent forest loss and degradation, largely due to activities outside the forest sector, continue at an alarming level. If current threats to forests continue, all human life will suffer. People in countries with low forest cover, indigenous peoples and local communities are particularly vulnerable. There is a need to address the widening gap between present trends and the potential of forests to contribute to the societal agenda, given increasing demand for forest products and services.

By harmonizing the needs of people and of the planet for forests, the world can progress along the path of sustainable development. But this harmonization cannot be achieved by the forest community alone. Bridges must be built with other sectors of society and a variety of actors.

The Congress calls on everyone for urgent and deep commitment to sustain this long-term process.

We envision a future with:

SOCIAL JUSTICE, where poverty is alleviated, livelihoods sustained, food and fuelwood secured, tenure rights and ownership recognized, and access to resources assured; where rights and benefits for forest workers are enhanced, gender equity is attained, intergenerational equity is pursued, and where access to education, training and health services is guaranteed, traditional knowledge is respected, and peace prevails.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS, where the full value of renewable and environmentally friendly forest products and services is recognized and leads to a flow of benefits, where sustainable forest management is profitable, where compensation mechanisms are established, and where the forest products industry operates competitively.

HEALTHY FORESTS which supply the full spectrum of products and services whilst conserving soils, maintaining biodiversity, regulating climate, sequestering carbon; where forest fragmentation is decreasing, deforestation is reduced, degradation is halted, and forest cover is increasing.

RESPONSIBLE USE, where forest resources are efficiently used and processed, and where consumption is sustainable.

And where:

GOVERNANCE is participatory, transparent and accountable; management and decision-making are decentralized, people are empowered, and partnerships flourish.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL DELIBERATIONS on forests have advanced to action.

RESEARCH, EDUCATION and CAPACITY BUILDING foster better understanding: of forest benefits and dynamics, of the complex relationship between ecosystems and human well-being, and of the impacts of human activities and management on forests.

Congress participants are determined to accelerate progress in closing the gap between the present situation and the long-term vision outlined above. This is in the collective interest of all. We recognize that forests exist within larger landscapes, are vitally connected to other sectors, and that they cannot be treated as enclaves in an interdependent biosphere.

To realize this vision, Congress participants highlight the following prerequisites:

• sustained political commitment and adequate financing;

• a strong, responsible forest sector;

• bridges with other actors and sectors;

• sustained and more effective international cooperation;

• policies based on best available science and information;

• competencies to address issues of complexity and multiple objectives;

• recognition of the considerable capital of culture, knowledge and good practice of indigenous peoples and local communities;

• management of forests and trees at local and regional scales, interfacing with human settlements, agroforestry systems, non-wood forest resources and other natural resources systems.

Congress participants commit themselves, and urge the world community, to actively pursue the above prerequisites and to accelerate progress through promotion of the following strategies and actions:

POLICY, INSTITUTIONAL and GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORKS Formulate and enforce legislation that relates to sustainable forest management.

Recognize and respect the rights of owners, indigenous peoples, users and workers; and protect cultural values.

Establish effective governance arrangements for ensuring meaningful participation and equitable sharing of benefits, and for facilitating a diversity of models conferring tenure and access to resources reflecting local context.

Develop forest policies and implement programmes to reduce deforestation and forest degradation in coherence and synergy with policies of related sectors.

Encourage positive incentives and discontinue incentives that are impediments.


Draw upon the energy and talent of youth in pursuing sustainable forest management.

Encourage collaborative partnerships involving women, forest owners, indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, local communities, industry and public agencies.

Foster active international and regional partnerships, including those between public and private institutions.


Implement comprehensive education and extension programmes designed to promote innovation at all levels and strengthen positive behaviour and attitudes towards forests.

Reform education curricula to address interdisciplinary dimensions, as well as global and regional considerations.

Realize the potential synergy between traditional and scientific knowledge.

Increase investment in research, dissemination of information, and learning processes that underpin all these strategies.


Develop and disseminate methodologies for assessing, reporting and managing the complete array of forest products.

Promote the reconciliation of uses and activities for adding value to forest goods and services.

Improve watershed management, intensify forest landscape restoration and rehabilitation activities: to support livelihoods, increase forest cover, enhance biological diversity and functionality, and minimize the impact of invasive alien species.

Promote planted forests and planting of trees outside forest systems, including in urban areas, which make a contribution to sustainable development.

Prevent, manage and combat forest fires, and restore forestlands as appropriate.


Foster mutual recognition of criteria and indicator processes and certification schemes, which include social, cultural, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable forest management.

Develop tools for better monitoring, assessing and reporting on the state of forests and on achieving the balance between the needs of people and the planet.

Congress participants resolve to pursue the above vision and strategies with renewed vigour and commitment to ensure that forests make a strong contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed targets.

The Congress invites all governments, related agencies, professional organizations, private companies and cooperatives, communities and individuals to urgently, and with full commitment, pursue the vision and strategies of this Statement. The Congress also requests that they promote these strategies with related professional communities and organizations in other sectors, in order to consolidate resources and efforts in realizing these goals.

The Congress requests FAO to present an assessment of progress on the strategies outlined in this Statement to the XIII World Forestry Congress and, in the interim, promote the statement through other relevant fora.

The Congress expresses its sincere appreciation and gratitude to Natural Resources Canada and to Ministère des Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, who together have formed the host institution, as well as to FAO and all the people and organizations who have made this Congress possible.

The Congress invites Canada to promote this Statement to relevant bodies, in order to achieve the commitment required at all levels for pursuing this vision.

NWFP side event at the World Forestry Congress

The NWFP side event “Strengthening global partnerships to advance sustainable development of non-wood forest products” took place on

20 September 2003 and was an official side event to the World Forestry Congress, held in Québec City in September 2003. It was organized by the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO Non-Wood Forest Products Programme).

The day-long event was the culmination of a global dialogue among stakeholders. An electronic-consultation took place for approximately three months in early 2003; and the discussion themes formed the basis for further exploration and discussion.

Two working groups explored issues and developed recommendations relevant to themes of the World Forestry Congress – “Forests for people” and “Forests for the planet”.

The results of the side event, coupled with the discussion documents of the e-consultation formed the basis for the Québec declaration on non-wood forest products. The Declaration identifies the major issues and provides recommendations for actions that would enhance the integration of NWFP/NTFPs into forest management, research, development and conservation.

  Québec Declaration on: Strengthening Global Partnerships to Advance Sustainable
Development of Non-Wood Forest Products
XII World Forestry Congress side event, 20 September 2003

The full-day side event was organized by the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO, Group 5.11 Non-Wood Forest Products), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO Non-Wood Forest Products Programme) and was attended by approximately 50 participants from around the world. The objectives of the meeting were: to identify and prioritize emerging issues for the development of the NWFP sector; and to draw the attention of the World Forestry Congress and forest resources decision-makers to key policy and research recommendations for the years ahead.

Background documents were prepared based on the outcome of a pre-Congress global e-consultation process along the themes: Commercialization: a reality check; Linking NWFP management with livelihood development; and Institutional and policy dimensions. The three background papers and participant contributions were presented and discussed in plenary, followed by group discussions along the World Forestry Congress (WFC) themes: Forests for the planet; and Forests for people.


NWFPs are of growing importance in both the North and the South. There is increasing evidence of this importance in the North.

NWFPs are harvested from wild to intensively managed systems.

NWFP uses, users and production approaches change over time, and are significant at all levels of society, from local to global.

There are important opportunities to manage forests for multiple purposes and products that will increase forest values.

Issue 1. There is a profound lack of the information necessary to realize the full benefits of NWFPs for individual, community and national well-being; decision-makers, forest managers and resource users alike lack information about economic, ecological and social characteristics of NWFPs and their uses.

Recommendation 1a. The participants of the side event on NWFPs of the WFC recommend that government efforts be strengthened to conduct research and generate, compile and disseminate information and statistics to key stakeholders on NWFP resources and their socio-economic and ecological values.

Recommendation 1b. The participants recommend that governments and development agencies support education and public awareness programmes for NWFP conservation and sustainable use.

Issue 2. Lack of protected rights to access and benefit from NWFP resources can adversely affect their conservation and sustainable use and discourage investment in the resource.

Recommendation 2a. The participants recommend that governments, with assistance from concerned agencies and organizations, develop and implement policies and legislation to provide secure access and benefits to the people whose livelihoods are dependent on or supplemented by non-wood forest products.

Recommendation 2b. The participants recommend that governments, with assistance from concerned agencies and organizations, ensure that stakeholders, particularly collectors, growers and traders, are provided incentives to sustainably manage NWFP resources.

Issue 3. Individuals, communities and institutions generally lack the technical, financial, political and social capacity to influence policies and generate information necessary to manage and monitor NWFP resources effectively.

Recommendation 3a. The participants recommend that governments, with assistance from concerned agencies and organizations, support programmes and projects to build individual, institutional, and community-based capacity to manage NWFPs through multistakeholder participation.

Recommendation 3b. The participants recommend that governments and research agencies give priority to research and the development and dissemination of management practices to be integrated into multipurpose forest and agroforest resource management.

These statements and recommendations are supported by documents and summaries of the side event produced by contributors and participants of the side event and e-consultation and will be found at:

For more information, please contact:

Jim Chamberlain (IUFRO),
Research Scientist, Coordinator,
Research Group 5.11 (Non-Wood Forest Products),
IUFRO US Forest Service,
SRS-4702 1650 Ramble Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA.
E-mail: ;

Brian Belcher, Senior Scientist, Forest and Livelihoods Program (CIFOR),
PO Box 6596, JKPWB Jakarta,
10065 Indonesia.
E-mail: ;

Paul Vantomme, Forestry Officer,
Non-Wood Forest Products,
Forest Products and Economics Division, Forestry Department, FAO, Rome, Italy.
E-mail:; or visit:

INBAR side event at the World Forestry Congress

The side event “Resources, trade and market structure for bamboo and rattan” was organized by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) on 21 September. The workshop was attended by approximately 25 participants and consisted of plenary presentations followed by discussions. FAO’s Paul Vantomme chaired the morning session and presented two papers, one on the use of bamboo poles for construction and the other on the perceived imbalance between supply and demand for rattan.

There were presentations/discussions on how to improve country statistics on the production and trade in bamboo and rattan products, as well as to further improve global reporting on the status and trends of bamboo and rattan resources.

The proceedings of this meeting have been published in the Journal of Bamboo and Rattan, Vol. 2, No. 4, December 2003.

Importance of nwfps for food security

[Please also see the section on Bushmeat under Products and Markets.]

Contribution of forest insects to food security – caterpillars in central Africa

Since ancient times, insects have represented an important part of nutrition in many cultures, e.g. in Mexico and in many Asian and African cultures. All over the world insects are consumed as a daily dietary supplement, an occasional delicacy or a substitution product in times of food shortages, droughts, floods, war etc. Today, delicacies made from insects can also be found on restaurant menus in a few European countries, such as France and Belgium.

Edible insects should be considered more seriously as a potential in the efforts to improve food security and to alleviate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. FAO notes that in particular it is the very poor who harvest insects and other NWFPs, and that gathering activities are usually carried out by women.

Realizing the need to raise more awareness on the potential of edible insects in livelihood strategies of forest-dependent people, FAO’s NWFP Programme initiated a review in 2002 aiming at documenting their significance in the central African region. This article mainly outlines some of the results of case studies commissioned to local experts in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Republic of the Congo (Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Kinshasa). The focus is mainly on caterpillars as they are very common insects in forests and can be easily gathered.

Contribution of caterpillar collection to livelihood security

About 85 percent of the population of the Central African Republic consume caterpillars, the rate in rural areas being slightly higher than in urban areas. Investigations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo show that 70 percent of the respondents eat caterpillars.

The harvesting of caterpillars is a periodic activity in the rainy season. The caterpillars are preserved by sun-drying or smoking. Regional diets have a wide range of methods of consuming insects, alive or dried, as side dishes or sometimes as snacks. Caterpillars are eaten as a delicacy but are a planned part of the daily diet according to the seasonal availability. Even if in principle they are not to be considered as a substitute to meat from livestock, people rely more on caterpillars and other available insects when bushmeat and fish supplies decline in the rainy season and their market prices are rising.

The intensity of caterpillar consumption and species preferences depends on culinary traditions. In the Central African Republic, for instance, people living close to forests prefer among others Imbrasia truncata, Nudaurelia oyemensis and Imbrasia obscura. In some cultures traditional restrictions exist for consumption patterns. Some Cameroonian tribes, for example, withheld caterpillars from dignitaries or more wealthy social classes.

Nutritional values. One case study gives a good overview of the nutritional values of various caterpillar species and basically confirms the empirical knowledge of local people in a scientific way. The average nutritional proportions of 24 fresh caterpillar species investigated are (based on dry matter): 63.5 ± 9.0 percent proteins and 15.7 ± 6.3 percent fat, resulting in an energy value of 457 ± 32 kcal/100 g. By comparison with beef and fish, the insects’ high proportion of these nutrients and thus their high energy value is obvious.

Insect proteins tend to be low in specific amino acids, e.g. methionine and cysteine, and very high in others, particularly lysine and threonine. Depending on the species, they are rich in different minerals (e.g. K, Ca, Mg, Zn, P, Fe) and/or vitamins (e.g. thiamine/B1, riboflavin/B2, pyridoxine/B6, pantothenic acid, niacin). Research shows that 100 g of cooked insects provide more than 100 percent of the daily requirements of the respective vitamins/minerals contained. The daily consumption of 50 g dried caterpillars meets the human needs of riboflavin and pantothenic acid as well as 30 percent of niacin.

Owing to the high nutritional value, in some regions flour made of caterpillars is mixed to prepare a pulp which is given to children to counter malnutrition. Species that are particularly rich in protein (e.g. Imbrasia epimethea, Imbrasia dione, Antheua insignata), calcium (e.g. Tagoropsis flavinata) or iron (e.g. Cinabra hyperbius) are given to anaemic people, or to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Several other species have an important role in traditional medicine.

Income generation. Caterpillars are widely available in local village markets, while some of the favourite species do reach urban markets and restaurants. The commercialization of alive or dried larvae takes place either directly between producer (gatherer) and consumer or, more frequently, through one or more intermediaries (wholesalers, retailers) who significantly mark up prices. Direct as well as indirect commercialization is practised in a very traditional, informal way and is usually carried out by women and children. For the majority of merchants, dealing in caterpillars is not their main activity but supplements their sales of other foodstuffs such as fish, nuts, manioc or other vegetables.

Merchants may occasionally organize themselves into formal associations to facilitate such logistic activities as renting a car to transport insects to markets. In Zimbabwe, a well-established formal marketing system for the commercialization of Imbrasia belina already exists. Although most caterpillars are sold for cash, in some regions they are bartered for food, clothes, household utensils, cigarettes, alcohol or machetes. The pygmies of the Central African Republic, for example, are still accustomed to bartering.

There is also a significant transborder trade in edible insects among all the countries in the central African region, but also with the Sudan and Nigeria and, on a smaller scale, as exports to France and Belgium. France and Belgium annually import respectively about 5 tonnes and 3 tonnes of dried Imbrasia sp. from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the case of Belgium, the quantity exported is valued at some US$41 500, corresponding to an average price of US$13.83 per kilogram.

Linkages between forest resources and insect populations

Several caterpillar species are known to defoliate trees as they develop at the beginning of the rainy season by feeding on fresh leaves. Foresters therefore often consider caterpillars as pests. The defoliation causes a temporarily confined growth but the trees usually respond by producing a second crop of leaves. The insects’ attack, if it is not an irregular outbreak, generates only weak permanent damage to the host plants in the dense moist forest zone. The application of chemicals in these forests to control caterpillar outbreaks is therefore non-existent.

However, caterpillars do have a negative impact when feeding on farm crops. Pest control of caterpillars is usually carried out by applying huge amounts of chemicals, thus killing the insects and making them unsuitable for human consumption. There is a positive effect of harvesting the pests. A characteristic example is the plentiful occurrence of Augosoma centaurus and Rhynchophorus phoenicis on Raphia sese and Elaeis guineensis. Even if there is often severe damage to these plants, the extensive harvesting of the grubs contributes to maintaining natural plant regeneration. The question is often raised as to whether the increased harvesting of insects for food might serve as a form of biological pest control. Such a practice might result in the reduction of pesticide use as well as creating new economic opportunities for local people.

Harvesting caterpillars is often carried out in a non-destructive way by picking them by hand. However, in some cases, cutting down host trees is widespread; and lopping large branches has an adverse effect as it predestines trees for felling afterwards. In this way, harvesting caterpillars can contribute to forest destruction.

On the other hand, forest degradation has negative impacts on insect populations. It can be assumed that the disappearance of certain host tree species may in the long term be followed by a gradually decreasing supply of some insect species, particularly those dependent on specific host plants. Tree species disappear, for instance, because of selective logging as in the case of high-value timber species such as sapelli (Entandrophragma angolense).

Another serious problem is bush fires which disturb both habitats and insect populations. For instance, the extensive use of fire for hunting game and more frequently to catch bush rats has a significant negative impact on the forest habitat. It may result in reduced survival possibilities for highly favoured edible caterpillars, while at the same time other insect populations (e.g. non-edible beetles) may increase. A very interesting aspect is the positive feedback of caterpillar harvesting on the frequency of bush fires in Zambia. This research found that there have been of late very few fires in those areas where people were harvesting caterpillars as the villagers were aiming to protect the insects.

Deforestation may indirectly alter local microclimates in the short term and does contribute to climate changes in the long term, which disrupts the life cycles of the insects. For instance, drought might become a problem, causing among other negative impacts the disappearance of host plants and the corresponding edible insect species, and/or an invasion and proliferation of other (non-edible) species.

The case studies and other investigations show that research on caterpillars is not only recommended because of their contribution to local livelihoods but also because of the mutual influence of caterpillar production and forest/woodland management. (Contributed by: Daniela Göhler, volunteer with FAO’s NWFP Programme; written under the supervision of NWFP Coordinator Paul Vantomme. The complete study and results of Daniela’s work will be published shortly by FAO’s NWFP Programme as a Working Paper.)

Mopani worm in danger of extinction

For Anna Mathathu, it is incomprehensible that the protein-rich mopani caterpillar could be facing extinction in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe if urgent steps are not taken to conserve its habitat. All her life, the 56-year-old villager has relied on the seasonal delicacy to supplement her meagre diet. But it has become obvious to her, and countless other residents of Matobo district – located about 70 km south of Bulawayo – that unless conservation strategies are adopted, the mopani caterpillar will not accompany future rains as it has done for decades.

The delicacy is known to the Ndebele-speaking people of Matabeleland as amacimbi, to the Kalanga as mahonja or mashonja and to the Shona as madora. Encased in a tough and spiky skin that protects its nutritional flesh, the mopani caterpillar has gained popularity as a delicacy in the countries of southern and central Africa. To the rural communities of Matabeleland, where it thrives, it has become an important source of food.

However, a brisk trade in the delicacy is threatening its survival and worrying villagers, who say there is no regulatory system to control the mopani caterpillar business that has become a source of livelihood for hundreds of people from within and outside Matobo district. “That [threat] is because people from outside the district have been overexploiting the resource without considering that the caterpillars need to regenerate every year. Such people care more about the profits they derive from the resource than its sustainability,” Mathathu said. The villager, who is from the Manyane area of Matobo district, added: “Even the prime amacimbi-producing parts of the district still do not have the caterpillars despite the rains this year. We fear they may not appear next year.”

Villagers say that the steady decline in the supply of amacimbi began three years ago when groups of women from Bulawayo and Harare began invading the area to buy the mopani worms, leading to overharvesting of the delicacy. Traders from Zimbabwe’s main urban areas export the caterpillars to Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Zambia. The caterpillars were initially taken to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998, where they were an instant hit, with Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia also becoming major consumers.

The absence of regulations or legislation to control the harvesting of the mopani worms has made it impossible for rural communities in Matabeleland to limit the trade in the delicacy, some villagers told The Daily News.

Canaan Ncube, a ward development committee member in the Donkwe area, said that the harvesting of amacimbi had become so commercialized that the mopani tree, the caterpillars’ habitat and source of food, was endangered every rainy season. “People fell down decades-old mopani trees just to get a kilogram of immature caterpillars,” he noted. “In the process, the habitat is destroyed and once the immature caterpillars are harvested, there is no hope of others reappearing in the same area.”

Although local authorities in whose areas the caterpillars thrive have been advised to introduce by-laws to manage harvesting as well as to safeguard the environment and the caterpillars’ habitat, most councils in Matabeleland South have yet to implement such regulations.

Knowell Dube, the Matabeleland South provincial natural resources officer, said that authorities in the province were aware of the destruction of habitat and were attempting to come up with solutions. “We are working with a number of councils to form local groups that will monitor the harvesting and protect the trees. The theory is that, given incentives such as exclusive harvesting permits, villagers can take better care of their trees and protect the mopani worm from overharvesting. But we need regulatory support from the councils to achieve this.” (Source: The Daily News [Harare], 27 May 2003.)

Dehydrated peach palm nut is a dietary option in Amazonia

The consumption of manioc meal and fish is the customary diet of the people of Amazonia. It would difficult to imagine how this custom might be substituted. However, new processing technologies are slowly changing the Amazonian diet. Diverse native products may be conserved in a dehydrated form. A project developed by researcher Jerusa de Souza Andrade of the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) is studying the possibility of dehydrating the peach palm (Bactris gasipaes) nut (pupunha), a process which improves its nutritional value.

The dehydration process concentrates the nutrients and allows the product to be stored at room temperature, facilitating transport and is an ideal technology for a region as vast as Amazonia. The final product is similar in texture to the ubiquitous manioc meal. (Source: Amazon News, 10 April 2003.)

[Further information on the peach palm can be found at:]

Food for life: indigenous fruit-trees in southern Africa

This paper looks at the status and contribution of indigenous fruit-trees (IFTs) to food security in southern Africa, and reviews and assesses the physical situation of IFTs in the miombo woodland. It contains information on use and trade of IFTs, and on biological developments in domestication and dissemination. It covers processing and marketing and explores avenues for the future of IFTs.

The paper was produced in 2003 by the FAO Subregional Office for Southern and East Africa (SAFR).

For more information or to request copies, please contact:
Mr Michel Laverdière, Forestry Conservation Officer, SAFR,
PO Box 3730, Harare, Zimbabwe.

NWFPs as food in India

The following has been extracted from a recent paper, by A.K. Bhattacharya, V.K. Sinha and Piyusha Tiwari of the Indian Institute of Forest Management, entitled “Seasonal availability and consumption pattern of NWFPs as food among the Baiga Primitive Tribe Group of Dindori District of Madhya Pradesh, India”.

NWFPs constitute an integral component of food for the communities dependent on forests. The role of NWFPs becomes more significant for less agriculture-dependent communities with small landholdings residing in remote forest villages. In order to assess the role of NWFP-based food habits of such communities, a preliminary study was carried out in one of the most forest-dependent tribes of India, i.e. Baigas. This study was carried out with people of the Baiga Primitive Tribe Group (PTG) living in remote “Chadha” village of Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh.

Since time immemorial people, especially tribals, have been dependent on the forests for various valuable biological resources such as timber, fuelwood, food resources, medicines and other extracts, many of which have no replacement by modern cultivation options. NWFPs play an important biological and social role in local food systems for the people living in and around forests as they depend heavily on forest resources to meet their day-to-day requirements. The communities living in the close vicinity of forests are especially dependent for their livelihood needs and food security. NWFPs are most extensively used to meet dietary shortfalls and to supplement the household income during particularly lean seasons. Many agricultural communities suffer from seasonal food shortages, generally known as “hunger periods”. These commonly occur at the time of the year when stored food supplies have dwindled and new crops are only just arriving. During this period the consumption of NWFPs increases. In many Indian states, especially Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Himchal Pradesh, 80 percent of forest dwellers depend on forests for 25 to 50 percent of their annual food requirements.

The specific objectives of the study included: analysis of the consumption pattern of NWFPs among the Baiga PTG in different seasons; analysis of the food intake of the Baiga tribe; and identification of the NWFPs that play an important role in food availability during the different seasons.

Results and discussion

Food (agricultural produce) availability in different seasons

Agricultural crops such as maize, kodo, kutki and ramtila are grown in the area. The inadequate irrigation infrastructure restricts farmers to the kharif crop only. The villagers’ landholdings are small (2 to 3 acres per household) and the average family size is six. Maize and chirota bhaji (NWFPs) form the staple diet of the villagers and are consumed throughout the year. Food availability declines during the summer and at the onset of the rainy season. This is the time of the year when villagers are most dependent on forest food to meet the shortfall in agricultural produce and the family’s food requirements.

NWFP availability in different seasons

Fifty-three NWFPs are reported as being collected by the villagers in Chadha (not including fish). Out of these, 46 are used for domestic consumption, with the remaining NWFPs being collected for sale. NWFPs such as sal seeds, tendu leaves and harra are collected by the villagers and sold to the Forest Department. Some NWFPs are also sold in the open market after domestic consumption has been met. The collection period and quantity depend on the availability of the NWFP. Most species are available from March to July, the maximum being available in June (62.78 percent), followed by May (44.18 percent), April (41.86 percent) and July (41.86 percent).

Out of the total NWFPs consumed, 49 percent are consumed as fruits, 26 percent as leaves, 16 percent as rhizomes and 5 percent as the entire plant.

Most of the NWFPs, other than mushrooms and leaves, are collected from March to June. Villagers go deep inside the forests and cover long distances, ranging from 2 to 5 km, to collect NWFPs. Some NWFPs, such as chirota bhaji and gular, primarily used for consumption, are found in adequate quantities in and around villages. Some NWFPs are consumed mainly as leaves, for example, chirota, pepal, dhoodia, saroota and kanjari. These are collected from June to September when the leaves are new and young. Chirota leaves are collected from July to September and dried and stored for consumption throughout the year. Rhizomes of a few species, such as kanhaya kand, birar kand and kadukand, are collected and consumed throughout the year. Mushrooms (“pehri” in the local dialect) are collected by the villagers from July to August. Their consumption depends upon the quantity collected.

The average collection period per household varies from species to species and also depends upon the availability in a particular year. In a good production year the period extends to two months for some species such as mushroom, mango, lorangi kand, bira kand and kadukand, are collected and consumed throughout the year. Mushrooms (“pehri” in the local dialect) are collected by the villagers from July to August. Their consumption depends upon the quantity collected.

The average collection period per household varies from species to species and also depends upon the availability in a particular year. In a good production year the period extends to two months for some species such as mushroom, mango, lorangi kand, birar kand, chirota bhaji and kachhar bhaji. The average collection period for the majority of the NWFPs is 10 to 30 days. The average total quantity of NWFPs collected per household per year is around 558.8 kg. Mango is the product collected in the maximum quantity (40 kg per household per year), followed by chirota bhaji

(35 kg per household per year) and maruha (30 kg per household per year). Most NWFPs are consumed cooked (46.5 percent), others raw (34.9 percent), while the remainder are consumed both raw and cooked.


NWFPs form an integral part of the food intake of the Baiga tribe. Some NWFPs such as mushrooms and chirota leaves are stored and consumed throughout the year. The consumption of mushrooms to a large extent depends upon availability in the area, while other NWFPs are collected and consumed from March to September. After the kharif crop is harvested, not much emphasis is laid on NWFP collection, partly because of low availability and partly because of the availability of agricultural crops. Chirota leaves and mushrooms form an important part of the diet throughout the year, and their consumption does not decline significantly with the seasonal availability of agricultural produce. The leaves of dhoodia, bhramrakas, sarota and kachar are only consumed during the rainy season. NWFPs such as khamar, kachnar, bhilwa, goolar and aam are consumed as fruit from March to June, depending upon availability. (Contributed by: Dr Ajoy K. Bhattacharya, IFS, Associate Professor, Indian Institute Forest Management, Nehru Nagar, Post Box 357, Bhopal 462003, India; fax: +91 755 772878; e-mail: or )


Indigenous fruit-trees: Irvingia gabonensis and Dacryodes edulis

Edouard Kengni advises that he has successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon. His thesis was on “Food value of fruits from indigenous fruit-trees in the Lowland Humid Tropics of West and Central Africa: case of Irvingia gabonensis and Dacryodes edulis in Cameroon”.

For more information, please contact:
Mr Edouard Kengni, Humid Tropics of Western and Central Africa, World Agroforestry Centre, PO Box 2067 (Messa), Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Fax: +237 223 7440;

Fruits comestibles de forêt vendus sur les marchés du nord-est du Gabon

Les forêts du nord-est sont également riches en fruits comestibles comme la plupart des forêts du Gabon. Nous donnons ci-dessous quelques fruits comestibles vendus sur les marchés de Makokou; ville située à 10 km de la station de recherche d’Ipassa où nous avons effectué la plupart de nos observations de terrain, il y a plus d’une quinzaine d’années.

Les populations de Makokou (Fang, Bakota, Bakwélé) consomment les fruits de forêt dès que ceux-ci arrivent à maturité. La saison des récoltes est brève chaque année (quelques semaines). Les fruits sont consommés de deux manières: soit sous forme de pulpe, soit sous forme de graine. Les fruits à graines comestibles sont les moins nombreux sur le marché, tandis que ceux à pulpe comestible dominent les étales des marchés à partir de septembre à août.

Si les fruits à pulpe comestible sont les plus nombreux, force est de constater que ceux-ci sont beaucoup  moins présents sur les marchés tout au long de l’année, comme c’est le cas pour les fruits à graines comestibles qui sont représentatifs à cause de leur mode de traitement mis au point par les populations locales pour mieux les conserver aussi longtemps que possible. Ainsi, on note par exemple que les graines de Scyphocephalium ochocoa (forme de poudre), de Panda oleosa (poudre) ou celles d’Irvingia gabonensis (graines et forme de pain) sont présentes sur les marchés locaux pendant l’année.

Nom scientifique


Noms vernaculaires

Partie utilisée

Anonidium mannii


Yinda, money, libanga


Antrocaryon klaineanum


Osongongo, mungongubogu, onzabili


Coula edulis


Coula, mugumunu, ogula, éwumi, ingomba


Dacryodes klaineana


Nomeba, abatom, muninga


Gambeya lacourtiana


Obambo, mobami, mumbampfu, bébambé


Irvingia gabonensis


Andok, oba, uba, wiba, mubè, mwiba, ondimba


Panda oleosa


Ovanda, afan, ovaga, nkuba


Pseudospondias longifolia


Andok, musungubali, ikongo, iposu


Scyphocephalium ochocoa


Sorro, ossoko, nsoko, otchoko, issombo


Trichoscypha abut


Owura, lebuta, mumbundu-kenga


Trichoscypha acuminata


Anvout, oléla, owura, elola


Pour plus d’informations contacter:
Dr Henri Bourobou Bourobou, Institut de Recherche en Écologie tropicale,
BP 13354, Libreville, Gabon.
Télécopie: +241 7325 78;

No need for iron supplement – eat grewia fruits

Grewia tenax is a tropical bushy tree with rounded, pendulous fruits, 5 to 10 mm across. Fruits change gradually from green to bright red when quite ripe. The firm, fleshy layer surrounding the stone is edible and is relished by children and adults alike. Its fruit juice is regarded as a great thirst-quencher, especially during the hot months from March to July. A thin porridge (nesha), prepared by boiling fruit pulp and millet flour is given to pregnant and lactating women to improve their health and milk production.

And now we know why grewia fruit is so prized by Sudanese people that it is even considered a substitute for iron supplement: of the wide range of nutrients in the grewia fruit, its iron content has attracted most attention. Indeed, the iron content is important to local communities who know well that it is a simple safeguard against iron-deficiency anaemia. It has, on average, two to three times the Fe content of oranges, with up to 74 mg per 100 g edible portion. The iron in the fruit juice, in particular, is noted for being much more easily assimilated than manufactured forms of iron. The fruit is also rich in carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, and low in fat and sodium.

In spite of its potential, which is well recognized, wild shrubs are continuously exploited to meet the increasing demand. A plant that is easy to cultivate and tolerant to harsh conditions deserves more research and development efforts than it has so far received. There is an urgent need to study the growth, development and utilization of G. tenax more comprehensively to facilitate the improvement of this species for the benefit of humankind in the future.

A joint project is being launched between the Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, Japan and the Agricultural Research Corporation, the Sudan to address these topics. We welcome any inputs from those who have experience with this species. (Contributed by: Dr Kamal El-Siddig, Visiting Associate Professor, Arid Land Research Center, Tottori University, 1390 Hamasaka, Tottori 680-0001, Japan; fax: +81 857 296199;
e-mail: )

Experts encourage rural people to plant fruit-trees

A joint effort by the Uganda Agroforestry Development Network, the National Agricultural Advisory Services and the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) aims to use fruit-trees as a weapon against poverty. They expect millions of Uganda’s poor in the rural areas to be their allies by planting many trees. Some 80 percent of Ugandans (approximately 19 million people) live in rural areas.

A survey carried out by ICRAF recently showed that 52.6 of households in Uganda had not planted any trees during the previous 12 months. This was mainly due to the limited access to quality planting material. Most households reported that they had no tree seedlings to plant. The report also reveals that 10 percent of formerly arable land had been degraded owing to overcultivation and that abandoned land is increasing at the rate of 3 percent every year.

The experts say that fruit-tree planting has a huge potential given that there are currently more than 1 000 species of fruit-trees in the Tropics that are still in the wild. These, they say, can be domesticated and turned into products. Some fruit-trees from the wild have already been used to produce high-value products. The shea nut tree produces butter which is a major ingredient in high-quality cosmetics and foods, and the amarula is a major ingredient in high-quality beverages. (Source: New Vision [Kampala], 21 May 2003.)

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