XIV. Recommendations and future directions

1. Policy reorientation
2. Information
3. Production
4. Product improvement
5. Improved marketing
6. Coordination

Product specific recommendations have appeared at appropriate places in the foregoing sections. Five major areas requiring immediate attention for an overall development of the non-wood forest products' sector, including their trade, have been identified to be Information, production, product improvement, marketing and coordination. This, however, will be possible only with research support and policy reorientation.

1. Policy reorientation

Although a general realisation about the significance of non-wood forest products has already appeared, in view of the long neglect these products have faced, a lot more is yet to be done to undo the setback already occurred. This requires a stronger and firmer commitment and support for the preservation and development of these products.

When formulating the land-use plans, national forestry master plans, forestry project identification missions' reports and evaluation of forestry projects, the impact of NWFP resources and their potential role in the rural and national economy should be considered routinely and without exception. Any potential adverse effect of development activities on NWFP must be considered and catered for before implementation of the project.

In short, the goal should be restoration of the lost status of NWFP in all land-use and forestry related activities.

2. Information

As a consequence of long neglect, authentic information on NWFP is hardly available. The actions below are suggested mainly to build up an information base and to disseminate knowledge about NWFP:

i. Documentation of a non-wood forest products directory, containing information on product description, uses, sources and other relevant bits of information. Its objective should be to put together all relevant information, for each NWFP. In view of the large number and diversity of medicinal plants, a separate but similar treatment may also be necessary.

ii. In order to ensure dissemination of available knowledge and networking, a NWFP newsletter should be started by the Non-wood Forest Products and Energy Branch of the Forest Products Division.

iii. A systematic programme for product specific or country specific case studies on NWFP should be initiated, in order to gradually cover all major products and countries producing them.

iv. Articles covering individual non-wood forest product profiles should be made a regular feature of Unasylva.

v. Data base on production, domestic consumption, trade and prices should be compiled and exhibited separately in the FAO Forestry Yearbook.

vi. National forestry departments and other related agencies should be encouraged and supported for maintenance of statistical information on NWFP.

vii. Information exchange through arranging visits of experts to the countries leading in NWFP production and management, including documentation of experiences of such countries should be started.

3. Production

In order to ensure a stable and sustainable supply base of the NWFP, the following actions are suggested:

i. Integrated management of wood and non-wood forest products, both in natural and plantation forestry.

ii. Integration of NWFP plants in agro-forestry systems.

iii. Standardization of agronomic practices for domestication and cultivation of NWFP plants.

iv. Research support for propagation techniques and selection of high yielding varieties.

v. Research support for quantitative assessment of the NWFP resources.

4. Product improvement

The following actions are suggested for qualitative improvement of NWFP, with a view to improve trade benefits for the collectors and processors:

i. Improvement of harvesting techniques and equipments.

ii. Improvement of processing, storage and transport methods.

iii. Decentralisation of processing near the raw material source to ensure more benefits to the locals, less wastage during transportation and reduction in transportation costs.

iv. Standardisation of grades, encouragement of grading by the collectors, and fixation of minimum grades.

v. Introduction of arrangements for value added exports.

5. Improved marketing

In order to improve marketing of NWFP and to enhance benefits to the forest dwellers, the following actions are suggested:

i. Market research to understand market channels and to encourage alternate channels, where necessary.

ii. Rationalisation of role of middlemen to safeguard against excessive exploitation.

iii. Dissemination of market information to ensure fair prices to the collectors

iv. Encouragement of the formation of collectors/processors cooperatives.

v. Establishing controlled price trading sessions in remote areas.

6. Coordination

Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of NWFP, it is well noted that a number of international agencies and NGOs are associated with one or the other aspect of NWFP, therefore, in order to increase pace of research and development of these products, and to avoid any duplication of efforts and inputs, it is recommended to collaborate and coordinate with:

i. Agricultural Services, and Commodities and Trade Divisions within FAO system.

ii. Other international agencies both within and outside UN system, including UNESCO, ILO, UNIDO, WHO, UNCTAD/ITC, ICRAF, WWF and Natural Resources Institute.

iii. International and regional associations (NGOs) like International Silk Association, International Rubber Association, International Bee Research Association, International Organizations of Flavours etc.