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Pilot country study - Malawi


(ii) Acknowledgement
(iii) Summary
1.0 Introduction
2.0 General background information
3.0 Forest resources of Malawi
4.0 Non-wood forest products in Malawi
5.0 Conclusion and recommendations
Annex 1: Importance of NWFP in the Northern Central and Southern Regions of Malawi
Annex 2: Map of Malawi


Non-Wood Forest Product Development in Malawi

A Pilot Country Study Prepared for the Regional Expert Consultation on NWFP (Non-Wood Forest Products) Arusha, Tanzania, October, 1993.

Prepared by:
R.W.S. Nyirenda
Deputy Chief Forestry Officer
Department of Forestry
P.O. Box 30048
Lilongwe 3
MALAWI.

Telephone: 781000
Fax: (265) 784268

September, 1993

(ii) Acknowledgement

Special thanks go to the various officers in the Forestry and National Parks and Wildlife Departments for having provided useful information for this study which was acquired mainly through interviews. Other members of the general public and those from certain Government and Non-Governmental Organizations, especially the Malawi-German Bee-keeping Project, are also sincerely thanked for having assisted in facilitating this study. This pilot study is therefore dedicated to all these people.

(iii) Summary

Non-wood forest products (NWFP) play a major role in social development in Malawi. Despite this, there is very limited information about the management and exploitation of such products. Though there have been deployed various interventions, mainly through Government, the development and management of NWFP in Malawi is still in its primary stages

This study has revealed that the exploitation of NWFP in Malawi varies with type, time and location of such products. The forests, especially those under public control, are the most productive. On a commercial basis, food NWFP, especially bee and game products, seem to be the most exploited. Other NWFP, including fruits, mushrooms, and medicinal products, are at present being exploited mostly for subsistence purposes. It has also been found that NWFP are being exploited legally or illegally. The Malawi Government is trying hard to reduce illegal harvesting by promoting legal approaches through various extensional strategies and physical interventions.

In conclusion, sustainable development of NWFP in Malawi requires a review of all relevant policies and legislation, the development of appropriate technologies and the provision of useful extension and marketing techniques.

It is the view of this study that for the above recommendations to be transformed into viable strategies there is need for such an undertaking to be initiated through a multidisciplinary approach. This calls for the involvement of both Government and Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi as well as international institutions like the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Food and -Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This would help plan, implement and monitor such strategies in the development and exploitation of important NWFP.

1.0 Introduction

Non-wood forest products (NWFP) which according to FAO refer to market or subsistence goods and services for human or industrial consumption derived from renewable forest resources and biomass, bearing promise to augment man's basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, have played a major role in human development in the past and present in Malawi. To a certain extent man has since time immemorial depended on NWFP for his social, physical and economic development. This is quite relevant for Malawi as can be seen from the way NWFP are being exploited from natural forests. It is a common practice to see people enter forests in Malawi to collect various forest products including honey, fruits, medicinal products, and mushrooms. Game is also hunted seasonally in most forests for meat, hides and other products. It is unfortunate that such activities, which are important to various rural communities, have not been well investigated for sustainable development in Malawi. There is very limited data on such investigations to evaluate the role NWFP in Malawi's development especially at community level. This pilot study is therefore aimed at carrying out such an investigation. Most of the information used has been obtained through interviews with a number of forestry and wildlife officers in the various districts and also from some members of the public especially in rural areas. It is therefore hoped that recommendations made in this study will be put to use in the sustainable development, management, and utilization of non-wood forestry products in Malawi.

2.0 General background information

The Republic of Malawi is a long narrow, land-locked country situated south of the equator in South-East Africa, between 90 17 degrees South and 32 - 35 degrees East. The total surface area of the territory covers approximately 118, 484 square kilometres (sq. km.), of which land is 94, 274 sq. km. (80%) and water 24, 210 sq. km. (20%) with Lake Malawi being the predominant feature. The country is located along the East African Rift valley, and is ecologically and physiographically varied. Of the total land area, about 68,3000 sq. km. (72, 43%) are held under customary land tenure; 4,700 sq. km. (4.98%) under estates (freehold and leasehold titles); and 21300 sq. km. (22.59%) under public land with a large proportion being used for the indigenous forest reserves, national parks, game reserve, large-scale forest plantations, urban and infrastructural development. For administrative purposes, Malawi is divided into three regions: north, center, and south (see Map in Annex 2).

Malawi experiences a tropical continental climate, characterized by two clearly defined seasons, the rain season (November/December-April/May), and the dry season (May/June October/November). The mean annual precipitation varies widely from a minimum of less than 635 mm to a maximum of 3,050 mm. boundary. The mean annual temperature is most strongly influenced by altitude, and varies on average from less than 16 degree C to 24 degrees C.

The total human population is over 8 million persons growing at an average rate of 3.5% per annum which is expected to rise to an estimated 10 million by the year 2,000.

The average national population density is 59 persons per sq. Km, but with an uneven distribution varying from 14-220 persons per square kilometer. 92% live in rural areas deriving their livehood chiefly from agriculture, forestry, livestock farming and allied rural and agro-based industries. The per capita land area has decreased from 1.42 hectares in 1984 to an estimated 0.94 hectares by the year 2000. This will put severe pressure on the already scarce land resources.

The majority of the population subsist on agriculture. Agro-based industries and other economic sectors are limited to provide alternatives to farming. This means there is an ever increasing pressure on the exploitation of natural resources including forests. It is estimated that about 3% of the total land area under forest cover is lost every year in Malawi. This is mainly due to the high population growth rate (3% per year) that is exerting tremendous pressure on natural resources especially natural forests. In order to reduce such a high rate of deforestation, the Malawi Government has introduced a number of strategies through policy and legislative review. It has created a number of institutions for this purpose.

3.0 Forest resources of Malawi

Forest and woodlands are of outmost importance to Malawi's society, providing the bulk of country's energy, timber, non-wood forest products, and environmental benefits. Malawi's total forest resource covered 3.51 millions ha. or 37.2% of the total land area in 1990. The Northern Region with only about 11% of the population has the largest forest resource (39%) while the Central and the Southern Regions with 89% of the population have considerably less. A large population of the natural forest is located on reserved land (National Parks, Game Reserves and Forest Reserves i.e. 48%) of the total forest resource.

Fuelwood makes up the great bulk of wood removals from the forest.

4.0 Non-wood forest products in Malawi


4.1 Introduction
4.2 Importance of NWFP in Malawi
4.3 Significance of NWFP to rural communities in Malawi.
4.4 Proposed development of NWFP in Malawi


4.1 Introduction

The potential use of natural forests has been recognised and exploited in Malawi for decades. These forests have provided malawians with various products including timber, energy, shelter and food in form of fruits, honey, vegetables, game meat, mushrooms, tubers, and fish. Although recognized, the role of such forests has been taken for granted, as a natural event, until the balance between supply and demand for the resources has titled for the worse. In Malawi, the need to formally manage the indigenous forests on a multiple use system was advocated some decades ago. Despite this development, acceptance such schemes were to be subordinate to the paramount objectives of commercial timber production and water catchment protection.

At the same time, because of the nature of indigenous forests in Malawi, maximization of revenue from the primary objective of timber production could not be achieved easily on a sustained yield. Poor stocking, low incremental rate and the difficulties experienced in regenerating the forests were the major causes. To manage indigenous forest in Malawi for the production of non-wood forest products (NWFP), the following areas were proposed for further exploration in the 1960's; grazing, beekeeping, wildlife management, tourism and mushroom production. Unfortunately, these interventions appear not to have achieve the prescribed goals. The management of forest resources mainly for wood production has contributed to this shortfall.

4.2 Importance of NWFP in Malawi

Malawi's forest resources can be divided into five categories in terms of location (Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of Forests in Malawi

Type

Area (Million ha)

% of Total Forest Area

Customary Land Forest

2.7

57

Forest Reserves

0.98

21

National Parks and Game Reserves

1.0

21

Industrial plantations

0.07

1

Source: Forestry Department

Because of the free access to forest products on customary land, the limited distribution of NWFP in industrial plantations, and the limited time for this study, it was not possible to quantitatively evaluate the potential for exploitation of NWFP in all forests. This study has therefore concentrated at the potential for the exploitation of NWFP in forest reserves, national parks and game reserves. This should provide usefull information since such forests account for over 50% of the total forest area in Malawi. There are 98 proposed and gazetted forest reserves in Malawi covering an area of about 10,000 square kilometers (sq. km.) (Table 2). There are also about 4 national parks and 4 game reserves in Malawi covering an area of over 10,000 sq. km.

Table 2. Proposed and Gazetted Forest Reserves.

Region

Number

Area (sq. km)

Northern Region

38

3120

Central Region

29

3437

Southern Region

31

3598

Total

98

10,155

Source: Forestry Department

To get an insight into the utilization of NWFP in these reserves, various people including forestry and wildlife officers were interviewed. The approach was to find out which NWFP were being exploited the most, legally or illegally, and for what purpose. Time that such an activity took place was also investigated. Information was also sought as to whether such exploitation was for subsistence or commercial purposes and whether this was done mostly by men or women or both. This survey was conducted through the three regional forestry offices in the north, centre and south (RFO-N, RFO-C, and RFO-S) respectively. The results are summarised in Annex 1 and Figures 1-3. It has been found that NWFP are exploited in all the three regions of Malawi. Where as the northern and southern regions are dominated by faunal food NWFP the centre is dominated by vegetal food NWFP. Considering the exploitation of faunal food NWFP, meat, honey, termites, and caterpillars dominate in the northern region (Figure 2). In the central region, the exploitation of caterpillars is more significant than that of honey, termites and meat. In the southern region termite harvest has been ranked higher compared to meat, honey, caterpillars and fish. With regard to vegetal food NWFP, the harvesting of mushrooms and fruits is significant in all the three regions (Figure 3).

The major weakness with this method of investigation is that it does not indicate the magnitude of occurrence in a particular area. At the same time, the only major advantage with this approach, given the various constraints including the limited time for this study, is that it gives a useful overview of the current situation in the absence of comprehensive data It also narrows down the scope for future investigations to only those NWFP that are comparatively significant.

Figure 1:

Non-Wood Forest Produce (RFO-N)

Non-Wood Forest Produce (RFO-C)

Non-Wood Forest Produce (RFO-S)

Figure 2:

Faunal Produce RFO (N)

Faunal Produce RFO (C)

Faunal Produce RFO (S)

Figure 3:

Vegetal Produce RFO (N)

Vegetal Produce RFO (C)

Vegetal Produce RFO (S)

4.3 Significance of NWFP to rural communities in Malawi.

A quick survey conducted by interviewing some district forestry officers in eighteen of the 24 districts of Malawi, in which most forests are located, revealed some interesting trends with regard to the importance of NWFP at various community levels in Malawi (Table 3).

Table 3. The Socio-economics of NWFP in Malawi.

Product

Involvement

Utilization

Marketing

Potential Production

Level for Demand

Environ. Impact

Availability

Effect on Income

Edible products

Honey

X

M

S +C

H

H

O

Y

H

Fruits

X + F

L

S

L

H

O

Y

M

Mushrooms

F

M

S (+C

H

H

O

Y

X

Insects

X + F

L

S

L

L

O

Y

?

Game

M

M

S +C

M

H

O

Y

H

Tubers

F

L

S

L

?

?

P

?

Leaves

F

?

S

L

?

?

S

?

Non-Edible Products

Medicine

X + F

M

C (+S

L

H

?

P

H

Resins

X

L

S

?

?

O

P

L

Fibres

X

M

S

L

?

O

P

L

Grass

X + F

L

S

L

?

O

Y

M

Fodder

O

L

S (+C

L

H

H

Y

?

Soil

X + F

L

S (+C

L

?

H

P

?

KEY: X: Male, F: Female, H: High, M: Medium, L: Low, S: Subsistence, C: Commercial, Y: Seasonal, P:
Permanent.

It has been observed in this study that the production, collection, and/or processing of NWFP in Malawi involves both men and women and that utilization of such products ranges from very low to medium. Most of these products are used for subsistence purposes. Only honey, mushrooms, game meat, medicinal products, fodder and soil are sometimes harvested for sale. Of these products, honey seems to be the only product with a marketing system that is developing well. Whereas the production of honey, mushrooms, and game meat can be improved, that of the others have very limited potential.

Currently, there is high demand for honey, fruits, mushrooms, game meat, medicinal products and fodder in Malawi. Only fodder and soil harvesting could be considered as having an impact on the environment. Whereas some NWFP are available seasonally e.g. honey, fruits and mushrooms, the rest are available all the year round.

This study has revealed that only honey, fruits, mushrooms, game and medicinal products, and grass for thatch have a strong potential to improve the incomes of the rural communities in Malawi. An attempt has been made to rank each NWFP in terms of its importance in the categories of food security, nutrition, health, employment and income (Table 4).

Table 4. Importance of NWFP to Local Communities in Malawi.

Product

Food Security

Nutrition

Health

Employment

Income

Total Score

Rank

Honey

3

3

3

3

3

15

High

Fruits

3

3

3

2

2

13

High

Mushrooms

3

3

1

1

2

10

Medium

Insects

3

3

1

1

1

9

Medium

Leaves

1

3

3

1

1

9

Medium

Game

2

3

1

1

1

8

Medium

Tubers

1

1

1

1

1

5

Low

Medicine

0

0

3

2

2

7

Medium

Raisins

0

0

0

1

1

2

Low

Fibres

0

0

0

1

1

2

Low

Grass

0

0

0

1

1

2

Low

Fodder

0

0

0

1

1

2

Low

Soil

0

0

0

1

1

2

Low

Rank: 0-5 + Low, 6-10 = medium, 11-15 = high.

Such ranking has revealed that honey and fruits are the most significant products followed by mushrooms, insects, leaves (vegetables), game and medicine. Tubers, raisins, fibres, grass, fodder and soil have ranked low.

In an effort to quantify statistically the exploitation of the most important NWFP, it has been observed that this is only possible, to a limited extent, with honey, caterpillar and game products as follows.

According to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPWL), communities surrounding some parks, game and forest reserves are allowed to hang bee hives in these areas harvest bee products. Through a Government supported beekeeping project a total of 894 people are currently participating in beekeeping. During the 1992-93 beekeeping year, a total of 4,188.9 kg of honey and 174.7 kg of bee-wax were harvested and sold. Money realized from honey sales was MK 25,133.40 (about US$ 5,000) and that from wax was MK 1,222.97 (about US$ 350). There is also one commercial bee-keeper operating on the Nyika National Park and South Viphya Forest Reserve. In the Nyika alone he has 185 hives which are estimated to harvest about 1,000 kg of honey a year. Where as the bee products from the rural communities around the park are sold to the project, the commercial bee-keeper sells direct to retail outlets. Honey is also amongst the products that are harvested illegally from most parks and reserves. In the Kasungu National Park, people are also allowed to install bee hives. In 1992 which was the initial harvest year 70 kg of honey was harvested. In Nkhota-kota Wildlife Reserve, beekeeping has started but due to the drought of 1992 very few hives were colonized hence no harvest has been reported yet.

Apart from bee-keeping, rural communities around Kasungu National Park have been allowed to collect caterpillars (Matondo and Vilungulungu) for food. In 1991, according to the DNPWL, over 170 people participated in the exercise. They harvested about 1,850 kg of caterpillars. The market value of these products in 1991 ranged between MK8.00/kg (about US$ 2/kg) and MK29.00/kg (about US$ 7/kg) depending on their availability.

In most of the national parks and game reserves there are a number of illegal activities (Table 5).

Table 5. Illegal activities in National Parks & Game Reserves

Park/Reserves

Illegal Activity

Nyika

- harvesting of honey, meat, hides, mushrooms, thatch grass, and wild fruits.

Vwaza

- harvesting of meat, hides, ivory, mushrooms, thatch grass, and wild fruits

Kasungu and Nkhota-kota

- (Similar to Vwaza but include leaves for food e.g. Chinaka (Orachidace family) and Bwaka

Lake Malawi National Park

- fish harvest, and meat

Liwonde and Majote

- fish, meat, hides and ivory harvesting

Longwe and Mwabvi

- harvesting animals for meat and masawu (Ziziphus sp) as fruit

Source: Department of National Parks and Wildlife.

The major annual species that fall victim to poachers include elephant, hippo, antelope, buffalo, warthog, fish, and rock hyraxes. Between 1981 and 1990 an average of 30 antelopes of different species per year were killed illegally. The average figure for elephants for the same period was 25 per year.

Culling is a periodic exercise in Lengwe National Park. Nyala antelope, warthog and buffalo have been culled in the past. The meat is sold (at reduced prices) to the people. Legal harvest by local communities has not been introduced yet. Government is trying hard to reduce these illegal activities by making them legal.

This is being done through an intensive public awareness programme amongst other strategies. In areas outside national parks and game reserves, licences (at a fee) are issued to sport hunters. The licence authorises the holder to kill five common duikers, one worthog and one male bush buck. Over 200 hunters are licensed annually. The success of the hunters has not been closely monitored by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPWL) but the zeal to renew the licences shows that the activity is viable. Government hunters also shoot several animals on crop protection. According to DNPWL, an average of 0.3 million kg of meat are sold to the public from this exercise every year giving (estimated revenue not available). The bulk of the meat is from hippo, elephant and buffalo in decreasing order of contribution.

4.4 Proposed development of NWFP in Malawi

The sustainable development of NWFP in Malawi is still in its infancy. It would appear only the harvesting of bee products is advancing to commercial levels. Other products (Table 4) including fruits, mushrooms, insects, leaves, and game products show potential for further development at both subsistence and commercial levels.

For such development to advance in Malawi, the following factors (or constraints) need to be well looked into:

(i) Suitable environment must be available, particularly with regard to climate and vegetation,

(ii) Conducive policies and legislation, i.e. laws and institutions,

(iii Appropriate technologies, i.e. adaptive research to combine local with new knowledge, the provision of capital to finance equipment if necessary,

(iv) Extension and training, i.e. training in relevant technical field plus business management training such as accounting,

(v) Marketing system (local - urban, i.e. infrastructure, traders and buyers (small and large), capital.

5.0 Conclusion and recommendations

NWFP in Malawi are abundant but not well managed and utilized. Most of these are located in National Parks, Game Reserves and Forest Reserves. Where as only bee products appear to be exploited economically this activity could be improved. In Malawi, there is limited policy and legislative frame work governing the management and exploitation of NWFP. Since the Malawi economy is agro-based and that agricultural expansion is declining, management of NWFP for sustainable development is an attractive option. In order for this to be achieved, this study recommends the following:

(i) Reducing the pressure on the environment by developing and introducing appropriate alternative management practices and technologies for the utilization of NWFP from forests.

(ii) Improve on legislation and provide for the institutional capacities to enforce the legislation.

(iii) Upgrade the existing extension and training facilities by developing adequate training programmes and appropriate extension packages and logistics for the various target groups.

(iv) Establish suitable marketing systems and provide the necessary capital for the development and management of the relevant NWFP.

In Malawi NWFP can therefore be sustainably developed and exploited if there is a multidisciplinary approach to the whole exercise at legislative, policy, and implementation levels. This can be facilitated through the initiative of the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources and other relevant Government and Non-governmental Organization.

Annex 1: Importance of NWFP in the Northern Central and Southern Regions of Malawi

Table 1. Non-Wood Forest Produce in Malawi (Frequency Distribution of Faunal & Vegetal Produce)


RFO(N)


RFO(C)


RFO(S)

Food (Faunal)

30

Food (Fauna)

13

Food (Faunal)

30

Medicine

3

Medicine

9

Medicine

3

Others

39

Others

16

Others

39

Food (Vegetal)

17

Food (Vegetal)

44

Food (Vegetal)

19

Fibre

2

Fibre

9

Fibre

2

Extractives

2

Extractives

0

Extractives

0

Total

93


91


93

Table 2. Non-Wood Forest Produce in Malawi

 

(Frequency Distribution of Faunal Produce)

(Percentage Distribution of Faunal Produce)


RFO(N)

RFO(C)

RFO(S)


RFO(N)

RFO(C)

RFO(S)

Food (Faunal)

Termites

7

3

10

Termites

23

23

43

Caterpillars

5

5

3

Caterpillars

17

38

13

Honey

7

4

3

Honey

23

31

13

Meat

9

1

5

Meat

30

8

22

Fish

2

0

2

Fish

7

0

9

Total

30

13

23


100

100

100

Table 3. Non-Wood Forest Produce in Malawi

 

(Frequency Distribution of Vegetal Produce)

(Percentage Distribution of Vegetal Produce)


RFO(N)

RFO(C)

RFO(S)


RFO(N)

RFO(C)

RFO(S)

Food (Vegetal)

Leaves

0

13

4

Leaves

0

30

21

Mushrooms

9

8

10

Mushrooms

53

18

53

Tubers

0

2

3

Tubers

0

5

16

Fruits

8

21

2

Fruits

47

48

11

Total

17

44

19


100

100

100

Source. Questionnaire survey conducted through District Forestry Officers

Annex 2: Map of Malawi

Map of Malawi showing regional boundaries, forest reserves, national parks and game reserves.


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