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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Notes to broadcasters: Non-timber forest products (NTFP)

In Cameroon, a forest vine with the scientific name of Gnetum africanum, known locally as eru or okok, is a highly prized food, and is traded both within the region and further afield, including Europe and the US. Farmers in Cameroon are now cultivating the vine near their homesteads, thereby reducing their harvesting time and protecting the wild vines from over-exploitation.

An interview with a researcher involved in the domestication process can be found here: http://www.agfax.net/radio/detail.php?i=473&s=t

Despite their importance in the lives of many rural people in the Congo Basin, the economic value of NTFPs like the various species of Gnetum (including okok) was largely unknown. This hindered the monitoring, regulation and management of these and other valuable species. A recent study of NTFPs, and of their importance to rural and forest-dwelling communities around the world, can be found at this link: http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/AD39.pdf

Sometimes people are forced from their forest homes through government initiatives to conserve the flora and fauna on which they depend. A story from FRW issue #213, August 2012, describes how the Kenyan government passed a law which restricted the harvesting of forest resources from all government forests, and how people responded to their changed circumstances: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2012/08/20/kenya-displaced-forest-residents-turn-to-bamboo-farming-alertnet/

A case study of the Diabene community in southern Ghana shows how this community reacted to similar governmental pressure to protect the forests. It includes information about the types of NTFPs available to the community, and how they are used. Follow this link to find the report: http://academicjournals.org/JASD/PDF/Pdf2009/Dec/Abane.pdf

The Farming Matters magazine (issue #27.2, page 24, June 2011) has a good article about pressures on farmers and forests in Africa. It can be downloaded via: http://issuu.com/agricultures/docs/farming-matters-trees-and-farming/1

What forest products are saleable? How can your community decide how best to use the non-timber forest products available to it? An FAO document describes the process and pitfalls involved in trying to set up market information systems. It includes an example from Uganda. You can find it here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/ac692e/AC692E00.htm#TopOfPage

Processing the leaves and other parts of the okok vine into a variety of products lengthens its shelf life and adds value. Okok can be made into products such as body oils and hair pomades. Some people even distill the plant essences to make whisky! It is likely that similar plants are available to your listeners. What plants could they use to provide goods to the marketplace? What would the consumer buy? Engage your audience in a debate about how best to use − and protect − the wild plants and animals in your area.

2 Responses to “Notes to broadcasters: Non-timber forest products (NTFP)”

  1. Farm Radio Weekly » Farm Radio Weekly Archive » Notes to broadcasters: Farmers, traders and markets Says:

    […] There are Notes to broadcasters on NTFPs available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/24/notes-to-broadcasters-non-timber-forest-products-ntfp/ […]

  2. Farm Radio Weekly » Farm Radio Weekly Archive » Notes to broadcasters: Non-timber forest products and vegetative propagation Says:

    […] It has accompanying Notes to broadcasters, which you can read here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/03/24/notes-to-broadcasters-non-timber-forest-products-ntfp/ […]

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