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3. Product development and management

V. Shah (chair)
D. Ladipo
J. Were (rapporteur)
N. Haq
K. Gautam
M. Mander
E. Masters
S.M. Amatya
T. Ngwira
W. Ohlendorf
S.S. Mude
K. Crook

Introduction

Inter- and intraspecific variation in tropical species forms the basis for evaluation and development of descriptors. The conservation of germplasm is necessary for such evaluations of species and eventual product development. Provenance testing would guide selection of germplasm for domestication. The best germplasm should have a market and be profitable to farmers.

The working group throughout its discussions kept in mind how the farmer would benefit; therefore, members agreed that domestication should focus on products with potential for increasing food security and economic growth in the context of different agroecological niches and systems. Commercialization and product development can take place simultaneously or in sequence. Product development can be undertaken first while minimizing farmers' risks.

Needs for agroforestry

To encourage farmers to manage trees in agroforestry systems, the following would be needed:

Domestication strategy

Domestication and commercialization will affect household livelihood strategies; for example, how labour is allocated may change from production of staples to production of NTFPs. Trade-offs will have to be made regarding the intensity of domestication, ecological functioning and socioeconomic equity (fig. 1). It is envisioned that the greater the intensity of domestication, the less diverse production systems would be and the fewer people would benefit. The optimal point varies depending on the species and local or national circumstances.

Product development and management are restricted by what is known at the local level; for example there is a lack of flow of information between producers and consumers. There is little understanding of the dynamics between product and market and of the cultural aspects of production, handling and postharvest processing.

Research priorities

Comprehensive basic research on product and source is necessary. Such research should be multidisciplinary, including, for example, economics and horticulture. Products should be identified based on local people's needs and utilization. A collaborative research approach should be taken involving the CG system, NARS, NGOs and the private sector. Farmer and researcher participation should be considered at all levels.

Product- and species-oriented networks of research participants should be established utilizing databases, directories of practitioners, bibliographies, etc. Seminars, workshops and newsletters should be encouraged. Assistance from international organizations would be needed to disseminate information, transfer technologies, and encourage exchange of scientists and practitioners. Such exchange of information must also include farmers to keep them abreast of research advances.

Farmer participation in research and product commericialization is necessary to ensure that the farmer will directly benefit. In this respect, the optimal intensity of domestication should be identified (fig. 1). Environmental impact assessments may aid this identification. The management of a diversity of products of high market value and with household uses will aid in improving farmer livelihoods. To increase value to farmers, local processing should be promoted and improved.

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Figure 1. The relationship between domestication of NTFPs, ecological functioning and socioeconomic equity.

Conclusions

A summary model was designed (fig. 2) that integrated botanical research with indigenous knowledge to identify products for market. Those products to be marketed would then be managed either in their natural habitat or within agroforestry systems. Based on farm production budgets and the most efficient management systems, recommendations would be made for implementation of product development and management. These recommendations would consider production, distribution, marketing and monitoring.

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Figure 2. Summary model for product development and management.

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