The FTPP field-testing programme of the guidelines for the creation of community-managed marketing information systems for NTFPs
Following the initial promising tests of the marketing information system (MIS) in Sta. Catalina, it was decided to explore the possibility of testing its applicability in other locations and to see whether a community-based MIS could serve other purposes than the monitoring of prices which was its primary goal in Sta. Catalina. Besides the two new sites in the Philippines, one group was set up in Peru and two in Uganda.
The test in Peru was completed in a large forested area lacking road infrastructure. MIS "clients" are farmers and forest dwellers who receive radio broadcasts on prices and levels of demand for local forest products such as wildlife, medicines, tree foods and handicrafts from the only existing market in this area. Reports from the test indicate that users are very appreciative as a trip to the market often involves long and expensive journeys by boat. The MIS helps them in planning when to sell their products. The Peruvian test site is unique in that the community involvement in the design and operation of the MIS is minimal. Users are highly dependent on the group operating the MIS and on continued external funding of the radio transmissions.
In the two sites in Uganda, participants are groups of small traders/producers of NTFPs such as baskets, mats, chairs and bags. The Ugandans have structured their MIS to collect and analyse information on sales from their market stalls and customer preferences. In both communities the sales information is used to adjust production and stocking of various products and product lines. By knowing customer preferences, for instance that tourists prefer plainer colours, MIS users can more easily target their market. MIS participants also explained that they had improved their ability to work together, even though each stall was operated independently. Contrary to all the other test sites, MIS users in Uganda decided not to publicize the information outside their groups.
Based on the experiences from the test sites, the guidelines have been revised. The final version will contain examples from the various locations to illustrate the process and how participants operated in practice.