The other two major rainforests of the world are found in the regions of equatorial Africa and southeastern Asia. These two regions are facing the problem of deforestation even more rapidly because of political instability and lack of financial support.
One solution that has been used widely in African region is the usage of Non- Timber forest products (NTFPs). “Non-timber forest products are the huge variety of materials derived from forests excluding timber and fuel wood. NTFPs include bark, roots, tubers, corms, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, sap, resins, honey, fungi, and animal products such as meat, skins, bones, and teeth” (Clark, 2001). NTFPs are harvested from forest areas and are produced in farmers’ fields. NTFPs are used as consumable food items and medicine in both rural and urban homes. These products are traded in local markets and exported to regional and international markets that help in generation of individual and country’s income.
Two factors are important to understand the role of NTFPs, effect on the livelihood of farmers and effect on rainforest conservation in central Africa. Studies indicate that use of NTFPs is “a symptom of poverty and not a cure” (Clark, 2001). Rich families do often consume NTFPs in Africa or anybody who has access to agricultural crops but they don’t produce or crop them for sale. The case scenario for NTFPs that are harvested in wild is that rich people only consume NTFPs as they don’t have access to agricultural products, it is feared that once the agricultural markets revitalize or on-farm cultivation of NTFPs increases, only the poorest, most marginalized, and landless families will have an interest in wild harvesting of NTFPs resulting in its decline.
Since there are no NTFP access reforms or laws regarding the cultivation of NTFPs, those items that are valuable and will help in generating income of the poor, it is believed that such items will be over harvested in the wild. One of the major fears of On-farm cultivation is that rich families or landowners will exploit the poor and landless people, who wont have access to either the NTFP products or to the economic value generated by them. The other problem is that though on-farm cultivation of high value NTFPs may lessen the pressure to yield from the wild, it may possibly encourage farmers to clean the forests to produce such products.
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