After much reflection, we have decided to merge the NWFP Digest and Non-Wood News into a single e-publication, which will be distributed quarterly: the present NWFP Update. Whilst possessing many of the same features of its predecessors, we are placing increased emphasis on views and contributions from our readers, with the hope of building a dynamic platform for practitioners to exchange views on NWFPs in the long-run. Hence, we invite our readers to send contributions (including recent papers, projects, workshops, articles, etc.) to: [email protected]. Please do not hesitate to send feedback on our new NWFP Update as well!
Finally, we would like to thank Tina Etherington, long-time editor of the NWFP Digest and Non-Wood News who retired last year. Tina provided such momentum to the NWFP “conversation” in previous years through her work and was an inspiration to many.
Forests for food security and nutrition: Where we are headed, Fred Kafeero
“It is time to look beyond subsistence and also explore the commercial value of NWFPs to maximize the potential of the sub- sector to contribute to achieving food and nutritional security.”
Forest foods and tree products have been important components of rural diets for millennia and continue to provide essential nutrition for millions of people. It is estimated that 80 percent of the population in developing countries depend on NWFPs in particular for subsistence, especially women, who play a significant role in harvesting and processing activities. Indeed, NWFPs represent affordable sources of food (often “free” food) with the potential of contributing markedly to enhanced food and nutritional security, particularly for peoples with limited livelihood options.
Forest foods are especially vital during lean times, providing valuable safety nets during periods of stress caused by weather extremities or conflict. Although evidence exists on the role NWFPs play in supplementing household nutrition and income, significant knowledge gaps remain on their role in alleviating food insecurity and on labor and decent employment in the sub-sector. Additionally, no internationally agreed framework or formats exist to guide the collection, reporting and dissemination of data on the use and trade of NWFPs for food security and nutrition; this remains a key bottleneck in the sub-sector. These issues need to be addressed to better inform policy and decision makers and increase leverage of NWFPs in strategies and interventions that address food security, nutrition and Sustainable Forest Management (SFM).
Additionally, the commercial-oriented value of NWFPs has yet to be fully explored. Some 150 types of NWFPs are significant in international trade. According to FAO’s most recent Global Forest Resource Assessment, the value of NWFPs amounts to approximately US$18.5 billion, with some estimates reaching as high as US$90 billion per year. Food products represent the most valuable category of NWFPs followed by other plant products, wild honey and beeswax, ornamental plants and exudates. In spite of these figures, high poverty rates remain characteristic of areas with high forest cover; such rates are often associated with deep, severe and chronic poverty and often equally severe and chronic food insecurity. More needs to be done to gather evidence on the impact commercializing NWFPs has on poverty alleviation and improved food security.
In this regard, FAO is taking on a number of initiatives which aim to explore the opportunities and challenges of commercializing NWFPs including in Benin, Tunisia and the Central African Republic, among others. In Tunisia, FAO is working to increase awareness and know-how among policy-makers and forest managers to facilitate the development of a strategy promoting NWFPs. The project is also working to build capacities of NWFP micro-enterprises to ultimately improve the lives of forest dwellers and contribute to the sustainable development of forest resources in the country. In Benin, FAO is working to promote the sustainable use of NWFPs and improve their contribution to food security and to the livelihoods of the populations. This will be achieved through an inventory of key NWFPs, an assessment of their market potential and capacity building of local stakeholders involved in the gathering, processing and commercialization of NWFPs in Benin. The development of a national strategy promoting NWFPs in Benin is also in the pipeline.
Commercialization nonetheless raises challenges, such as greater use of purchased foods, which, in the absence of sound nutrition education, can sometimes translate into a decreased intake of micronutrients, biodiversity loss from overharvesting and other socio-economic and gender nuances related to household food intake. Nevertheless, the opportunities from increased income and purchasing power (if complemented with good knowledge of recommended daily intake of micronutrients) could very well complement NWFP subsistence-oriented activity and give the sub-sector the leverage it has been missing in the forestry landscape to ultimately convince policy makers and forest managers of the nutritional, cultural and commercial value of developing the NWFP sector.
Fred Kafeero is a Forestry Officer at FAO and focal point on “Forests for Food Security and Nutrition”.
For more information, please coontact:[email protected]
* For more information on FAO’s work on Forests for food security and nutrition, please see: www.fao.org/forestry/food-security/en/
 FAO. 2013. Forests and trees outside forests are essential for global food security and nutrition : Summary of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition.
 FAO. 2010. Global Forest Resources Assessment
 Vincenti, B. et al. 2013. The Contribution of Forests to Sustainable Diets.
 Sunderlin, W. et al. 2008. Why Forests are important for global poverty alleviation : a spatial explanation. Ecology and Society, 13(2).
“Next steps” for NWFPs with Eva Muller, Director, FAO Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division
“NWFPs are not a silver bullet, but they are a part of a mosaic. By giving them more visibility through sound research, we hope they will be given greater recognition by governments and international economies, because NWFPs still have a lot of untapped potential.”
Q: The recent International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition set out to emphasize the important contributions forests, trees and agroforestry systems make to food security and nutrition. Why such an emphasis, why now?
The role of Forests and Trees for Food Security and Nutrition is not well known or recognized. At a time when there are still millions of food insecure people around the world and deforestation is continuing in most regions of the world, we wanted to make the link between these two issues and emphasize that we need to make sure that we maintain and sustainably manage forests to ensure that the essential contribution forests provide for food security and nutrition is not lost.
Q: An estimated 840 million people are undernourished globally, most of them in developing countries. What role can NWFPs play in contributing to improved food security and nutrition in these countries in the years to come?
There are a huge number of NWFPs that provide food to people in many parts of the world. To list a few, anything from seeds, fruits, bushmeat and insects all have a very important role for food security for many local people who live in and around forest areas. This is not very well known and not very well recognized. There are a number of related challenges, including inadequate policies and legal frameworks or lack of access rights by local people that need to be addressed — we wanted to highlight all of these issues through the Conference.
Q: What is FAO doing to give leverage to NWFPs at a policy-level?
In the future there will be an increasing need to engage more with countries on their policy and legal frameworks regarding the management of NWFPs. We have already done this with some countries through projects, in Central Africa for example, but I think there is a need to engage more countries on this issue because many countries have no provisions whatsoever on NWFPs in their legal and policy frameworks related to forests. In many parts of the world there are problems with overharvesting and poor access to NWFPs, for example, which may be exploited by some at the expense of others, because there is a lack of regulation on the use and management of NWFPs.
Q: Is regulation thus the key way forward here?
Regulation is just one of the issues. The other main issue related to NWFPs is that there is not a lot of good, reliable data available on the role they play not only for local populations but also their contribution to local and national economies, which is substantial in many countries. One of the areas of emphasis for FAO will be to help countries collect more information on NWFPs and make this information available. Currently when countries collect data on forest resources, information on NWFPs remains scarce.
Q: Today, the policy agenda, in the context of forests, is largely driven by climatic change and biodiversity loss, themes which have also legitimately captured the public imagination. How can we make sure that NWFPs, a sub-sector that remains crucial to the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries, is not overshadowed?
Certainly issues related to climate change and biodiversity conservation get a lot of attention internationally, but both are linked to NWFPs. We need to use this as an opportunity to highlight NWFPs and their contribution to food security, especially because food security will also be affected by climate change. All these issues are linked.
Q: A number of projects at FAO are beginning to place greater emphasis on the commercialization of NWFPs. Will this be an increasing trend in the years to come? What do you perceive to be the benefits of commercialization?
When we think about sustainable economic development we cannot forget NWFPs. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to generate more information on NWFPs, to find out what their actual value is. As we all know, the forest sector in many countries doesn’t receive much attention because recorded contribution to GDP is very low. What is recorded is far from being complete because a lot derives from the informal sector, making it very difficult to calculate. We need more information in this regard, especially on NWFPs which largely involve the informal sector.
Q: NWFPs have been criticized as having failed to combine conservation and poverty alleviation goals. Having once been hailed as a “silver bullet”, they have arguably on the contrary come with a host of challenges, from lack of secure land tenure to overharvesting issues. To what extent is FAO addressing these challenges?
NWFPs are certainly not a silver bullet, but they are a part of the mosaic. By giving them more visibility through sound research, we hope they will be given greater recognition by governments and international economies so they can fulfill their potential, because NWFPs still have a lot of untapped potential.
The Importance of Forests and Trees for Food Security and Nutrition in Central Africa, Ousseynou Ndoye
Forests and trees are important for the livelihood of rural communities living in central Africa. They provide food, fuelwood, fruits, leaves, medicinal products and construction materials. The contribution of forests and trees to food security and nutrition has always been overlooked in government policies and in international debates. This situation needs to change in Central Africa. Forests and trees contribute to food security in two ways:
a) The supply side: direct consumption of fruits, leaves, nuts, insects, bush meat, thereby providing the necessary nutriments to human beings;
b) The demand side: sales of forest products to purchase food with the income received;
It has been shown that important NWFPs such as Ricinodendron heudelotii (Njansang) are richer in lipids, carbohydrate and calcium than tomato, bushmeat, fish and beef. This implies that their processing and consumption should be encouraged to increase the level of food security and nutrition of the populations of Central Africa (see below).
Local markets play an important role in enabling rural communities to get a significant part of their cash income through sale of NWFPs thereby contributing to their food security. Increased urbanization (as a result of rural to urban migration) is a significant factor that expands the size of local NWFPs markets. Several traders, mainly women, are engaged in the commercialization of NWFPs. The incomes they obtain are used to purchase food for the family, pay for the school fees of their children, pay for family health, and buy clothes for the family.
Recognizing the importance of forests and the need for their preservation, in March 1999, the Central African head of states expressed in the Yaoundé Declaration their will to create a unique political and technical authority, the Central African Forests Commission (COMIFAC), to orient, coordinate, harmonize and facilitate decision making in the Central African context of sustainable management and conservation of forest and savannah ecosystems. COMIFAC’s Convergence Plan adopted in February 2005 by the head of states and currently under review defines common strategies for the development intervention of states and partners in the framework of sustainable management and conservation of forest and savannah ecosystems. The Convergence Plan has ten axes aimed at enhancing the contribution of forest and trees to the livelihood and food security of rural communities, to national economies and the need to preserve them for future generations.
Over the years in Central Africa, there have been many pressures on forest resources due to clearance for agriculture, increased urbanization, market development and unsustainable harvest practices. These factors have increased the distance local communities have to travel to collect or harvest forest products and particularly non-wood forest products that used to be closer to farm compounds. In order to reconcile livelihood improvement and conservation of the rich forest resources in Central Africa, participatory domestication became necessary to preserve the superior characteristics of the tree specifies thereby increasing supply at a significant level.
According to the Word Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), participatory domestication encourages the effective participation of local communities and other stakeholders and integrates their views in the design of the technologies. The experience gained by ICRAF has enabled communities to produce high quality planting materials thereby increasing productivity in terms of quality, size and quantity of fruits, quantity of barks, abundance and size of leaves. Besides, early fruiting and off-season planting materials have also been developed. All these efforts have improved food and nutrition security in Central Africa.
The following actions are necessary to further improve the contribution of forests and trees to food security and nutrition:
* Ensuring that local people have secure access to the resources by regulating use rights, paying attention to gender (as shown above, women are important users of forests and forest products).
* Empowering women to be more involved in the valorization of NWFP. The more women are empowered, the more likely the family welfare will be enhanced. This means that investing in women is positively correlated with improvement in household well-being.
* Promoting the development of small and medium forest-based enterprises, through access to finance and capacity development.
* Considering forests in national food security and poverty reduction strategies.
* Promoting better land use planning
Improving forests and trees for food security and nutrition goes beyond the forest sector and requires inter-sectorial collaboration and multi-stakeholder approaches including all institutions and stakeholders involved in rural development.
Ricinodendron heudelotii (Njansang): “Njansang” kernals are sold in countries like Cameroon and in regional and international markets. Njansang nuts contribute to a balanced diet thanks to their richness in proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, calcium, iron, etc. They also contain 49 to 63 percent oil which can be directly consumed or used in pharmaceuticals. They are processed into powder or paste and used as a much appreciated cooking ingredient for various fish, meats and vegetable dishes in Central African countries.
In 2011, a German-funded FAO project organized several training sessions to valorize Njansang in the Central African Republic (CAR). Of the 457 participants, 131 were women. The training modules focused on strategies for harvesting the product, fermentation, depulping, crushing and packaging for markets. The training sessions enabled women to improve food and nutritional security of their households and to reap revenue through sales of the Njansang nuts to traders. A good portion of the nuts gathered was consumed locally by more than half of the indigenous Bantu families and nearly all Baka gatherers.
Ousseynou Ndoye has more than 25 years of work experience in the agriculture and forest sectors. He has worked for the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and FAO. His work experience covers West and Central Africa.
For more information, please contact: [email protected].
Benedict Reade, Head of Culinary Research and Development at the Nordic Food LabNordic Food Lab: Pursuing flavor, biocultural diversity and sustainability
Some five years ago, while foraging for horseradish, a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family, Rene Redzepi, head chef of NOMA restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, conceived the Nordic Food Lab. Redzepi, puzzled by the fact that horseradish tasted different each time he foraged for the plant, sought advice from a botanist, who provided a simple explanation: he was picking different varieties of horseradish. Redzepi quickly concluded that chefs needed an open space to research, explore and experiment with forgotten and underutilized foods, and so the Nordic Food Lab was born.
The Lab is a non-profit organization composed of a multidisciplinary team of researchers including chefs, anthropologists, botanists, ethnobotanists, geographers and even experts in literature. The researchers pursue “good flavor” and by doing so, explore diverse food items and sustainablefood practices. Foods explored typically include local, wild, foraged and forgotten foods such as elderberry, seabuckthorn, insects (including ants and grasshoppers), birch sap as well as a host of bee products.
Benedict Reade, Head of Culinary Research and Development at the Lab and presenter at FAO’s recent Committee on World Food Security explains that the pursuit of taste and flavor is often erroneously perceived as a prerogative of the elite. “This couldn’t be more wrong. It is not elitist, it is real, and also has implications for food and nutritional security,” says Reade. “Exploring taste is inherently about researching diverse food products, and diversity is key to sustainable food systems. Flavor in fact is often a signifier of sustainability.”
“There is this idea that taste is not a privilege of the hungry. But a tasty and diverse diet is more likely to provide a greater range of essential micronutrients, and this is key for nutritional security. International development organizations should embrace the concept of flavor,” adds Reade.
Chefs, who are intimately exploring food and celebrating the work of small farmers on a daily basis, should also have a stake in food policy, believes Reade. “Unlike international development organizations, chefs have a different audience. They already communicate many of the same messages FAO does, for example, on local food production, smallholder food systems and biodiversity, but do so directly through the food they cook up and serve on a daily basis to people that might not necessarily be targeted by the development world.”
Although the Lab’s research focuses largely on local foods, the team periodically visits countries across the globe to enrich their culinary and biocultural knowledge. Recently, members of the team visited the Republic of South Korea to study fermentation, and others will be travelling to Kenya and Uganda to explore local practices of entomophagy, or the practice of eating insects.
In addition to being open source and sharing its research widely across different disciplines and fields, the Lab pursues “taste education” with individuals of vast age groups. It is not uncommon to find the Lab’s researchers using seaweed-flavored ice cream, for example, to introduce the local food item to typically averse youths.
“Food is not just about calories, it is about culture,” adds Reade. “From good and tasty food stems good health – both ecological and human – and that is a driving force behind our research.”
http://nordicfoodlab.org/; www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3pNezMbMT4 http://nordicfoodlab.org/blog/2012/07/transitions
Q+A with Jenne de Beer, the “father” of the NWFP movement in Asia
Jenne de Beer is considered the “father” of the NWFP movement by his Asian collaborators, drawing global attention to this important source of subsistence resources for local livelihoods as well as income for the rural and upland poor. He is currently a facilitator of the “Negrito Cultural Revival & Empowerment Initiative” in the Philippines. An important focus of this initiative is the revival of wild food traditions. He is also the former executive director of the NTFP Exchange Programme for South & Southeast Asia and a recipient of the ISE/Darrell Posey Field Fellowship Award for ethno-ecology 2010/2011.
Q: Forest foods are of vital importance to many ethnic groups with a hunter gatherer background, not least in Asia, and have been so for millennia. How do we bring such issues higher onto the policy agenda?
By directly engaging policy makers at various government levels and branches, but also by involving civil society, academia (e.g. UP Los Banos, College of Forests and Natural Resources and Pamulaan IP College, Davao) and the media through exciting events and attractive stories about indigenous peoples and their experiences with NWFPs, as this information is not common knowledge.
Q: Is it time to move beyond subsistence and pursue commercialization of NWFPs to a greater degree?
On the contrary: it is time to take subsistence seriously. However, where there is a surplus, NWFPs can provide welcome cash income, not as commodity, but instead as high quality specialty items. Honey derived from the Apis dorsata species (“giant honeybees”), already quite well established by now, is just one such example.
Q: You have a profound experience in Asia, for instance, with the “Negritos” hunter-gatherers of the Philippines. How do we ensure that their rich knowledge base on forest foods is preserved?
By confidence building! Negritos, including youth, are becoming proud again of their heritage, including when it comes to food. There are a broad range of activities being performed to cultivate this heritage and make sure it isn’t lost. Equally important is to develop special educational materials for schools. This plan is still in its early stages, but we have begun a promising initial collaboration with the Department of Education to this end.
Q: In your experience, to what degree do indigenous hunter-gatherer groups like the Negritos depend on NWFPs for their lives and livelihoods? Are these products sufficient for their food and nutritional security, or are these groups perennially “vulnerable” to shocks such as climatic extremes and social conflict, for instance?
Regarding sufficiency of forest foods, the situation varies widely – one key factor being the condition of the forest ecosystem. The forests in some areas are still surprisingly healthy, while those in many other areas are today in a rather poor condition, with impacts on indigenous food systems as well. So yes, definitely, these groups are vulnerable. That is why efforts should be (and are) embedded in a broader “cultural revival and empowerment framework”, which also addresses such things as ancestral domain issues (tenure), forest conservation and culture in education.
Q: How are you personally involved in highlighting the important role NWFPs play in ensuring food security in many communities living in or around forests in Asia? How are you addressing challenges such as tenure and overharvesting?
Currently, the driving force in the Philippines is the so-called “Negrito Cultural Revival Initiative”, which is a loose (but pretty effective) network/coalition of Indigenous Peoples Organizations, government agencies, NTFP-TF, segments of civil society, as well as a group of highly qualified volunteers. The initiative is addressing the challenges of possible overharvesting by: (1) encouraging maintenance or revival of traditional sustainable harvesting practices; 2) discouraging the consumption of rare or endangered species – with the exception of in certain cultural activities/rituals, which is also in accordance with the Wildlife Act here.
For more information, please contact:[email protected]
A recent study reports on the impacts of trade on natural populations of “the world’s most expensive biological resource,” Ophiocordyceps sinensis, known commonly as caterpillar fungus. The study is based on interviews with 203 harvesters and 28 traders, and focus group discussions in Dolpa, Nepal and reports that when trade in the fungus was legalized in 2001, trade volume increased systematically, reaching a peak of 2442.4 kg in 2009. Local market price meanwhile has mushroomed by up to 2 300 percent in the past decade, report the authors.
The article notes that interviews with harvesters reveal a perception that the availability of the fungus is in decline (95.1 percent), with a large majority (67 percent) believing current harvesting practices to be unsustainable. The fungus, highly prized for its medicinal properties, is believed to be “the world’s most expensive biological commodity”. Increased demand for the fungus is ringing alarm throughout the Himalayan region for more sustainable management of the species.
Full article citation:Shrestha, U.B. and Bawa, K.S. 2013. Trade, harvest, and conservation of caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) in the Himalayas. Biol. Conserv. 159:514–520.
* News story: Caterpillar Fungus creating fortunes:http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20130917000110&cid=1103
GENERAL NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD:
Edible vine improves women’s livelihoods in Cameroon
Until a few decades ago, the climbing vine Gnetum spp. – called Okok or Eru in different parts of Cameroon — remained an obscure delicacy. Prized by domestic traders and consumers in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it has been eaten raw for hundreds of years to combat all manner of illnesses or finely shredded and added to soups and stews. For more information, please see: http://bit.ly/1aRiNzw
Bushmeat a safety net for West African farmers
Cocoa farmers in West Africa are using bushmeat as a back-up source of food and income in times of hardship, according to new research. The study, published in PLOS One, says conservation measures that restrict access to bushmeat through hunting bans and law enforcement may damage the livelihoods of rural communities. For full story, please see: http://bit.ly/1buhgD0
Any collectors left? Experts examine social sustainability of wild plant harvesting in Central Europe
The Central European “Traditional and wild” project was instigated in part to preserve the traditional knowledge on wild plant collection in Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland that is being lost because the flow of information from generation to generation has been disrupted. For full story, please see: http://bit.ly/18RpPdk
Bamboo bikes address gender equity, poverty and climate change
The Bamboo Bikes Initiative was recognized for providing a non-polluting, affordable form of transportation as well as creating employment opportunities for women. Young women with little or no education are trained to manufacture and assemble the bikes. But, this Initiative is more than just bikes. For full story, please see: http://huff.to/INoo2Q
Falling Fruit: A global collaborative foraging map
Foraging for fruit just got easier, with a map bringing together foraging data around the world. Thought to be the first effort on such a large scale, Falling Fruit is a massive, collaborative urban harvesting map that aims to reduce waste while reconnecting people to their environments. Around 500 species are currently shown on the map, across diverse locations. For full story, please see: http://bit.ly/1e2ROc5
FAO urges policy-makers to strengthen forest producer organizations
Strengthening forest producer organizations should contribute significantly to reducing poverty, improving livelihoods and enhancing economic development of smallholder forest owners and farmers, FAO said at the International Conference on Forest Producer Organizations, which took place in Guilin, China, 25-28 November 2013”. For full story, please see: http://bit.ly/1kvpoVO
* Ayanwuyi, E. 2013. Effects of NWFPs on Rural Household in Surulere Local Government Area of Oyo State, Nigeria. International Institute for Science, Technology & Education, Vol. 3: 9.
* Catlin, J., Hughes, M., Jones, T., Jones, R. & Campbell, R. 2013. Valuing animals through tourism: Science or speculation? Biological Conservation 157: 93–98.
* Lindsey, P.A. et al.2013. The bushmeat trade in African savannas: Impacts, drivers, and possible solutions. Biological Conservation 160: 80–96.
* Leigh, B. 2013. The Nature and Culture of Rattan: Reflections on Vanishing Life in the Forests of Southeast Asia. Asian Studies Review, 37:3.
* Nomad RSI. 2013. Aspects of knowledge of forests of the Kreung People of Ratanakiri: Food Derived from Forests. Cambodia.
* Oleksa, A., Gawroński, R. & Tofilski, A. 2013. Rural avenues as a refuge for feral honey bee population. J. Insect Conserv. 17(3):465-472.
* Singhal, P., Bal, L.M, Satya, S., Sudhakar, P. & S. Naika, N. 2013. Bamboo shoots: A novel source of nutrition and medicine. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 53(5).
* Vega, M.G., Carpinetti, B., Duarte, J. & Fa, J.E. 2013. Contrasts in livelihoods and protein intake between commercial and subsistence bushmeat hunters in two villages on Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. Conserv. Biol. 27(3):576-587.
* Vimala, S. 2013.Malaysian Herbal Heritage. Malayisa: FRIM. (information available at: www.frim.gov.my/?page_id=519).
* William Armand Mala , Julius Chupezi Tieguhong , Ousseynou Ndoye , Sophie Grouwels & Jean Lagarde Betti. 2012. Collective action and promotion of forest based associations on non-wood forest products in Cameroon. Development in Practice. 22:8, 1122-1134. (available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2012.714353)
* Vinceti,B., Ickowitz, A., Powell, B. Kehlenbeck, K., Termote, C., Cogill,B., Hunter,D. 2013. The contribution of forests to sustainable diets. Background paper for the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition. Rome.