Early in June 2021, the Non-Timber Forest Products – Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) in cooperation with the FAO Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), RECOFTC, the Asian Farmers Association (AFA), the International Forestry Students Association (IFSA), and the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA), recognizing the untapped potential of thousands of Community-Based NTFP Enterprises (CBNEs) across the region and their vast contribution to community well-being and forest conservation, organized a forum to channel attention and action in support of CBNEs.
The online forum fostered information exchange, capacity enhancement, market engagement, and political support for CBNEs. It was a venue for sharing, exchanging, partnering, and bringing the issues of the understory to light. It was an opportunity for CBNEs to grow, connect and navigate in the new normal as attention and action were solicited from more sectors, more segments and more generations.
So as to maintain the momemtum generated by the first CBNE Forum Event in June 2021, NTFP-EP will organize a smaller, more focused 2-day event on October 13-14, 2021.
The objectives of the event are to:
1) Deepen the capacity building themes from the first event so as to further enhance skill and knowledge of CBNEs
2) Facilitate creative thinking and strategic partnerships to facilitate CBNE pivot and resilience through ongoing challenges
3) Deepen the knowledge and networking of CBNEs on market mechanisms, particularly on alternative labeling process to improve exposure and collective promotion of CBNE products
4) Expand the coverage of other NTFPs within the ASEAN recognized range of sustainable harvest and management protocols
Registration to this forum is free of charge.
From the evaluations of the CBNEs and their partners from the June CBNE event, it appears the capacity building needs are focused on branding and digital marketing. During the October event, therefore, the capacity building inputs will focus on:
1.Understanding the digital landscape and understanding how needs and behavior of consumers are changing. With this better understanding, CBNEs can further identify new community products, derivatives, etc
2.Understanding the process of re-strategizing, pivoting in the digital age will help CBNEs to determine better identify cost-effective steps, processes, resources for CBNEs.
3. Facilitating how CBNEs can determine which e-commerce sites / market places/ platforms are the most strategic for their brands and how best to engage.
Trainers will be invited from at least 3-5 different countries to make sure that discussions are grounded in actual country contexts and trends. In addition to brief inputs from speakers, separate breakout sessions will be created for each country where exercises based on live cases will be discussed and new strategies proposed. Local languages will be used in the breakout sessions. CBNEs will then return to plenary to discuss their next steps
Partnerships are currently being brokered between universities and other institutions to continue the mentoring process within each country even after the October event.
In 2014, NTFP-EP surveyed standards and certification systems and realized that many were either too complex and expensive for community forestry groups to apply for and maintain. The existing standards and certification schemes did not well capture the characteristics of community managed NTFP systems. They failed to look into socio cultural factors and the traditional ecological knowledge that keeps such systems in order and running. Having a collective mark owned by an association of forest and farmer groups supported by civil society organizations and like-minded groups could provide NTFP specific processes and stronger local ownership and participation in the process of validation. Standards and protocols could be customized and highlight the distinct values of the groups' products / represents the whole package of values that forests and farm producers could provide. CBNEs could pool or combine efforts for marketing for stronger impact, better recall at less cost.
Standards were piloted and launched for forest honey in cooperation with the Madhu Duniya network with the first forest honey group certified in the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia in 2019.
Since then, NTFP-EP and colleagues have realized that various community forest groups have already been implementing participatory guarantee systems for NTFP products which use the same principles and methods as with FHCM. Such processes include the Good Hinabi Practice (GHP) and Good Tenun Practice (GTP) developed for eco-textiles from the Philippines and Indonesia which guard sustainable harvest, fair trade and chemical free dye aspects of a product, among other aspects. The Rotan Lestari is a sustainable rattan system developed with rattan farmers, civil society, and national and local government representatives in Indonesia. It has been used by local and international buyers to reflect traceability in trade systems. On-going Rotan Lestari processes are currently being undertaken for rattan originating from the island of Kalimantan and intended for Europe and the US. Recently as well, the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) is also interested to align their Biodiversity-based products (BBP) with the Forest Harvest Collective Mark to benefit from collective promotions and be aligned with a network of those with similar values.
Presentations on ongoing regional pilots on honey, rattan and eco-textile will be presented at the forum in October.
NTFP-EP and partners have a vision to complete the establishment of the Forest Harvest Association to include forest and farmer groups who wish to develop the community led/ oriented and participatory mark with NTFP-EP as well as with other support organizations.
The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) have adopted the ASEAN Guidelines for Sustainable Harvest and Resource Management Protocols for Selected Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) during its 42nd annual meeting on October 21, 2020. The guidelines serve as a primary reference for NTFP management protocols in the ASEAN region and help guarantee the sustainable management of NTFP resources for markets and relevant stakeholders. The guidelines incorporate scientific and experiential knowledge, which indigenous peoples and forest managers have expressed in simple thumb rules. They are also based on a socio-ecological framework, looking at aspects that affect the sustainability of NTFPs. Provided in the guidelines are examples of sustainable resource management protocols for five important NTFPs: rattan, bamboo, resin, forest honey, and fruits. Aside from assisting ASEAN Member States (AMS) in developing NTFP protocols, these guidelines may also be used by national and sub-national program managers, research and academic institutions, community enterprises, traders, and civil society groups working on projects involving the management of NTFP resources, as well as for advocacy purposes. NTFP-EP and the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry facilitated this process
It has always been the interest of NTFP-EP and AMS to expand this list as well to other important NTFPs such as medicinal plants, eco-textiles, natural dyes, essential oils, and others.
There is potential in expanding ASEAN’s current NTFP protocols guideline processes to cover a new round of NTFP categories which are relevant for CBNEs across ASEAN. The ACB is also interested in supporting this expansion with BBP partners in the honey (Apis cerana) and medicinal plant sectors especially and with focus countries being in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. In all 3 countries, medicinal plants are important NTFPs with thriving local and cross border trade, this happens, however, against the backdrop of vulnerable ecosystems. In Cambodia, the BBP medicinal value chains that are being promoted in the buffer zones of ASEAN Heritage Parks is Black Ginger in Phnom Kulen in Cambodia and in Vietnam, the medicinal herbs Giao Co Lam of Sa Pa. NTFP-EP Vietnam is also supporting medicinal and herbal plant producers in Lam Dong, Binh Thuan, Binh Phuoc, Dak Nong, Binh Dinh, Dong Nai, Kien Giang, and Ninh Thuan provinces, all around national parks and nature reserves. Thus, an expert consultation on medicinal plants is planned for the October event.