Past FAO activities in support of NWFP development
Current and future activities
Regional Forest Resources Officer
FAO. Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Even before the term "non-wood forest products" (NWFPs) became common, FAO supported the development of bamboo, resins, honey, medicinal plants, etc. It did not take long for FAO to realise the important role and usefulness of NWFPs in tropical forestry development programmes as NWFPs are easily adopted in social forestry and agroforestry programmes.
Between 1986 and 1990, several NWFP related field projects were formulated in member countries. These included support for lac cultivation in Vietnam, mushroom development in Bhutan, bamboo development in the Philippines, and chemical processing of Acacia catechu and deer farming in Thailand.
In Rome, the FAO Forest Industry Division was reorganised in the early 1 990s and renamed the "Forest Products Division" to better reflect the importance FAO now attaches to NWFPs. A new senior forestry officer's post was created with direct responsibility for NWFPs.
Several FAO projects and programmes have conducted case studies and other analyses of NWFP development. Most notably, the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTPP) of FAO has published numerous reports and case studies on NWFP handicraft and cottage industries.
In 1991, the Forestry Section of FAO/RAPA organised the first regional expert consultation on NWFPs to review the situation of NWFPs in 11 member countries. That consultation focused on the management and biological aspects of NWFPs.
In 1992, FAO/RAPA and UNESCO jointly organised a meeting on "Forestry and Cultures in Asia. " The main focus was minority communities dwelling in or around forests of the region with a perspective on how to preserve their ethnic cultures, including valuable knowledge on the utilization of NWFPs. A regional project document was formulated as a result. Unfortunately, however, no donors have been found to launch this project.
FAO's current efforts to promote NWFPs include: i) organizing meetings, ii) conducting county studies, iii) formulating field projects, iv) incorporating NWFP components in on-going community agroforestry or forestry research projects, and v) disseminating information on NWFPs.
This second expert consultation is one such activity. FAO will also organise an international consultation on NWFPs in Indonesia in January 1995. This will be a milestone to review the past and current activities on NWFP development and confirm the future strategies for FAO and other agencies.
In the area of project formulation, FAO has recently assisted the Government of LAO PDR in preparing a project proposal to improve the utilization and management of benzoin. Similar assistance has been given to Bhutan in formulating a project on mushroom production.
Information dissemination activities have recently been stepped up with the initiation of Non-Wood News, a twice-yearly newsletter produced by FAO/Rome, and several regional publications. FAO/RAPA is anticipating publication of the proceedings of this consultation and a report on NWFPs in Bhutan in early 1995.
The RAPA Forestry Section has established the development of NWFPs as a priority in its regular programme for 1994-95. This will be continued in the next biennium, 199697, because NWFPs have a great potential in the promotion of integrated rural development.
This challenging work cannot be done by FAO alone. It is essential to establish and coordinate a good collaborative network on NWFPs among the government agencies, local communities, NGOs, researchers, international aid agencies, and the mass media.