Smallholder timber production marketing

Timber from natural forests is increasingly less available because of conservation, and environmental and social concerns. Yet the demand for forest and tree products is increasing at the local, regional and international levels. In response, many small-scale agroforestry systems have evolved market orientations. The potential of small-scale timber producers in providing raw materials in both contractual (corporate smallholder partnerships) and open-market situations looks promising. However, considerable hurdles are to be overcome if farms are to produce timber of the quality and quantity sought by markets, and if timber production is to enhance incomes for farm families.

Farm forester creating his market chain diagram - identifying constraints and opportunities.

Farm-level activities that will assist small-scale timber production achieve its multiple potentials include improving farmers' access to:

  • markets and market information;
  • germplasm of suitable and well-adapted species, provenances, varieties, clones and seed sources of high quality; and
  • knowledge regarding species selection, tree management, product processing and required product quality.

Key community-level activities include:

  • market analysis to assess current and future demands and identify the tree products for which farmers may have comparative advantages;
  • the development of farmer groups to facilitate tree production and product marketing and to enhance economies of scale; and
  • collaboration with government agencies and advocacy groups to clarify and strengthen land and tree tenure rights and to address other policy issues that may hamper farm-level timber production.


Meru timber marketing programme

In the Meru district of Kenya, since 1999, timber for local construction and furniture manufacturing has increasingly been sourced from farms because of logging bans and a diminished supply from neighbouring indigenous forest blocks and State-owned forest plantations. Accordingly, the Meru timber marketing programme, implemented jointly by the World Agroforestry Centre, FAO, the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Forest Action Network, was initiated in 1999 to address research, extension and advocacy issues of farm timber supply.

For more detailed information, please visit theMeru timber marketing programme Web page.

last updated:  Thursday, January 12, 2006