4. Product domestication and adoption by farmers
|F. Sinclair (chair)
I. Dawson (rapporteur)
|H. de Foresta
The group defined domestication of NTFP as a progression from collection and utilization of products, through protection, management and cultivation, and culminating with genetic manipulation. This progression occurs through intensification of investment and genetic control. Two extreme strategies were envisaged: (1) making incremental improvement beginning with in situ product protection and management and (2) making major leaps in genetic improvement (fig. 1). Domestication activities will usually fall between these two extremes. The first strategy would favour small-scale farmers while the second would be geared at entrepreneurial establishments. The group recommended that efforts be concentrated on domestication of Cinderella tree species, and the two strategies be considered, but with special attention to market conditions for specific products.
The group recognized the need to capture available experiences on previous domestication and commercialization of Cinderella tree species, particularly in horticulture. The lessons learned should be compiled and used to guide our actions in agroforestry. With that in hand, the proposed areas of research are-
· To characterize the markets and their appropriateness for small-scale farmers. It should be noted that some markets involve higher risks and distant markets involve higher transport costs. Relating these to product prices and potential benefits to the farmer is crucial.
· To study the factors that control farmer behaviour in respect to domestication, and how it varies in relation to agroecological, cultural and socioeconomic conditions.
· Research of seed and seedling distribution mechanisms is important for the provision of genetic material to users, thus enabling its domestication and adoption.
· The concept of a phased development of multistrata agroforests is attractive. Experiences from Africa (Chagga homegardens, Asia (rubber agroforests) and Latin America (peach palm forests in Peru) demonstrate a great potential for product diversification and environmental amelioration. Research is needed to establish the appropriate attributes of species for the different phases of agroforest development. This involves developing appropriate system trajectories for particular sets of circumstances.
· Domestication strategies will depend on farmer circumstances. Research should be done on the internal factors (social, cultural, economic) and external factors (institutions, policy, etc.) that promote or inhibit domestication and commercialization. This will provide information on what strategies can work and why.
Figure 1. Two pathways in domestication and
commercialization of NTFPs.
These pathways form two extremes, with many intermediates.
The concern was expressed that the genetic improvement pathway, if highly successful, might lead to monocultures, rather than to agroforests, although this may depend on the levels of inputs required and the value and volume of the products produced.
For successful commercialization, the products must flow from production centres to the market places. For this to happen, development of infrastructure such as roads, transport and marketing channels is necessary. Policies and financing of such infrastructure should be considered before large-scale domestication is undertaken.
A marketing information system is another area of concern. Information flow (including collection, interpretation and sharing) is important for the success of domestication and commercialization. Systems for improving farmer-researcher dialogue (such as surveys and knowledge-based systems (KBS) and for tapping into indigenous knowledge (IK) should be emphasized. There is also a need to strengthen links between local, regional and international research and development institutions.
Figure 2. Information flow relevant to
the processes in domestication and commercialization of Cinderella tree species.
Key: _ = product flow; - -> = information flow.
Domestication and commercialization of trees for NTFP products can be for two target groups: resource-poor farmers and commercial entrepreneurs, and these involve different strategies. In agroforestry, it is the farmer-oriented strategy that is most relevant.