Economic Potential of Non-timber Forest Products in Nepal: Myth or Reality?
Keywords:NTFPs, economic potential, discourse, Nepal
This paper analyses the ongoing discourses and practices regarding the promotion of Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs). It assesses the existing claims and actual realization of economic potential of NTFPs. NTFP management has been receiving increasing attention in the last few years. Donors, development agencies and user groups have involved with great enthusiasm in different aspects of NTFP promotion, taking this as a panacea for poverty reduction. A critical analysis of the current scale of production and management of NTFPs shows that a misplaced optimism regarding NTFPs' economic potential prevails. The optimistic scenario appears to have been promoted by some development agencies partly to promote their own development enterprises. Moreover, due to the constraining regulations and bureaucratic hurdles surrounding timber trade, both development agencies and users are left without any commercial opportunities to harness NTFPs. Consequently, it appears that the overemphasis on NTFPs has replaced the discourse on timber management. It is argued that NTFP management should be understood as complementary to timber management and not as a substitute for the potential of timber. Although NTFPs have comparative advantage in the high mountain region, timber management yields far more income than NTFPs, particularly in the Terai.
Key words: NTFPs, economic potential, discourse, Nepal.
Full text is available at the ForestAction website
Journal of Forest and Livelihood 7(1) December 2008 pp.36-48