29th Sharing Meeting of NNN

18 October, 2006
ANSAB Meeting Hall

Participants:

  Name Organization
Mr. Kumud Shrestha NFA
 2 Mr. Nirmal Bhattarai ICIMOD
Ms. Dibya Gurung SDC
Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi ANSAB
Mr. Hum Gurung Griffitu University
Dr. Tirtha B. Shrestha Nepal Academy
Mr. Ram Hari Subedi ANSAB
Mr. Gobinda Ghimire AHP
Mr. Bhairab Risal NEFEJ
10 Mr. Govinda Kandel DSCWM
11 Mr. Bhawani Kharel IUCN
12 Mr. Parbat Gurung HBTL
13 Mr. Bob Nanes IDE/BDS MaPS
14 Mr. Indu Sapkota ANSAB
15 Ms. Shova Adhikari ANSAB
16 Mr. Arun Dhakal KAFCOL
17 Mr. Dinanath Bhandari Practical Action
18 Mr. Ram P. Acharya ANSAB
19 Mr. Amrit L. Joshi Forester
20 Dr. Dev Bhaktta Shakya AEC/FNCCI
21 Mr. Rana B. Rawal BIRD
22 Ms. Shyam Badan Shrestha Nepal Knotcraft Center

The participants of the 29th sharing meeting of Nepal NTFP Network (NNN) observed mourning silence in memory of the deceased veteran conservationists of Nepal, who passed away in an ill-fated helicopter crash in lelep, Taplejug on  22 September, 2006. 

Presentation of Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi
Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi made presentation on ‘Building Nepal’s Sustainable NTFP Brand’ in the NNN meeting. He put forth a brief overview of achievements of the PPA efforts in forest certification, products development and promotion, along with key interventions and outputs. Through its efforts in the pilot phase, more than 1,282 jobs have been generated in the direct processing and marketing areas. Over 7,199 households are receiving benefits as a direct result of this program. During 2003-2005 the alliance introduced and educated the Nepali partners on certification with the awarding of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification.

Besides, Nepal is the first country in Asia to obtain FSC certification for non-timber forest products and only the fifth in the world. This certification is the first in the world for handmade paper and the first in the world with regard to the variety and quality of non-timber forest products.

Certification by the Rainforest Alliance ensures that the raw materials that come from FUGs meet high standards of management and have been traced from the forest to a Nepali manufacturer. The project supported more than 23 enterprises and industry coaching has resulted in the development of a wide range of products including pain relief oil, personal care products, herbal teas, and hand made papers. Income generated in the certified companies is distributed among the communities involved.  A portion of the revenue is set aside for conservation and restoration activities. The alliance sold products worth US $1,759,718 during the project period, with the poor communities benefiting most from the enterprise activities. Certification standards have helped FECOFUN and CFUGs strengthen their democratic institutions and equitable society. Certification standards have helped FECOFUN and CFUGs strengthen conservation efforts. Certification has helped FECOFUN, SBTG and CFUGs strengthen business practices and linkages. FECOFUN has noted that its relationship with the Nepali government, even in the given political situation, has improved dramatically and feels better able to represent the communities. The significant socio-economic and local governance benefits led the Alliance to unanimously agree to formalize a continued working relationship to initiate new and expand existing activities. 

ANSAB has hoped to build on the achievements of this pilot phase, while simultaneously expanding and refining objectives to further the benefits to Nepal’s community forest user groups. 

Key Interventions

1. Build brand recognition for Nepal Sustainable NTFPs using FSC certification and sustainable sourcing promotion.

  • Target Outcome: Branding of Nepal FSC products with tangible marketing benefits achieved in higher market price and/or more secure and long-term stable buyer relationships.

2. Provide targeted technical assistance to Nepali companies so they can meet international standards for processing and product documentation in the NTFP sector that results in increased sales.

  • Target Outcome: These activities are designed to bring the FSC certified enterprises up to comparable world standards in processing, packaging and sales.

Other Highlights of the Meeting
Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha appreciating the achievements in forest certification, asked for the branding, presentation of Dr. Subedi. Replying his query, Dr. Subedi said, now, what we want is to make a common branding, bringing together all Nepal products producers into one umbrella for building on the image of Nepali products.

Mr. Ram Hari Subedi said, branding and certification are two different things. According to him, certification has brought out necessity and has made the way clear for communal branding.

Mr. Indu Bikal Sapkota said, every year in the certification audit, we can expand the size and we can include capable CFUGs into the pool of certification. Now, a great deal of works has been carried through in the part of awareness generation. And so we don’t need to spend in capacity building. For onwards efforts in certification, it will be cost effective.

Dr. Subedi said there are many challenges; there were concepts that it may not be possible in Nepal. But it was achieved in the extent it was expected. Let’s think, do we need to go to the way or not? It’s very difficult without National effect, said Dr. Subedi.

Mr. Bob Nanes of IDE/BDS-MaPS said it’s very important that these two types of branding should go well together. He said the results are quiet impressive in terms of no of area and products certified. He made queries on can CFUGs enable themselves to get to the market, what are the causes that motivate CFUGs to invest for the certification. Responding to his queries, Dr. Subedi said, certification does not guarantee market; you have to meet other qualities demanded in the market.

Mr. Kumud Shrestha said, ANSAB is supporting a number of enterprises. But this is not enough; a lot of entrepreneurs need support.

According to Dr. Tirtha B. Shakya, we need to make a national strategy for benefiting community people.

Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha, Executive Director of AEC/FNCCI said it was since 1992, the environmental sustainability, like FSC standard was demanded in market. There are people asking for products that are produced sustainably. Now, it is crystal clear that any sort of certification either organic or forest certification intends to benefit local communities through marketing their products aboard. If somebody pays more money for the FSC certified products, definitely people start producing certified products. 

Dr. Shrestha further said that if the supplier and buyer want to keep the long term and sustainable relations. From this perspective also, FSC standards certification has been the necessity of supplier and producers for sustainability of their business and relations.

Summing up the intent of Dr. Shrestha, Dr. Bhishma Subedi said, now, it has seems important that we have to make effort for forest certification in larger extent. Community Forests do most of the certification works. Value of auditing is very important, from the perspective of social, economic and environmental aspect. Consumers aboard have felt that for the sustainability, there is no other good way besides ensuring social, environmental and economic aspects.

Dr. Subedi said, the five interventions are what we have thought to be built upon. Now, we have to decide, what can be done for it and what from our part can we do? And also for the overall coordination, who can do what?

There were also suggestions to keep the capable organizations and companies into the alliance. Sharing own experience, Dr. Tirtha B. Shrestha said, there should be single but cumulative effort for the forest certification. If any party goes to make another intervention of different standards for the same forest certification, the situation may worsen.

Mr. Rana B. Rawal also suggested strengthening the alliance. We all have to understand that FSC is the way through which we can ensure sustainability of the resources and benefit to the communities.

Mr. Parbat Gurung said, now we are discussing, forest certification is a very crucial tool and how should we go ahead, how to alleviate poverty and the way for international market for us. There should be selection in companies, either they are socially and environmentally responsible or not while including them in the alliance, he said.

Mr. Bhairab Risal of NEFEJ said ‘we are initiating community radio in 75 districts of Nepal. This community radio will broadcast programs beneficial to the communities in their local languages. The radio services may also contribute to the missions of different development organizations to uplift the livelihood of the poor people.

Ms. Divya Gurung of SDC expressed her organizations interest to get involved in the Forest Certification National Committee. We can also join hands together for the efforts towards certification, she added. We are discussing and exploring the ways for the leveraged effects and broadened outputs, which investment area is the most beneficial for the poor communities. Following this, we are implementing different models. We may improve our perspectives on the way of seeking better options.

Bhawani Kharel from IUCN also expressed interests on behalf of his organization to join hands towards mutual efforts for the forest certification process. He speculated the forest certification potentials in the 5 to 6 community forests users groups, amongst the working area of IUCN.

Executive Director of FNCCI/AEC suggested to work through a single alliance and not to bring out more so that the efficacy of the alliances scattered and originate unhealthy competition. He shared his own experiences to suggest on strengthening a single alliance for similar purposes.

Mr. Hum Gurung form Griffitu University said we are investigating and mulling over the importance of forest certification to be included in the university curricula. We can develop human resources to work in the sector, he said.

Underscoring the role of Nepal NTFP Network (NNN), Ms. Gurung from SDC emphasized the need of mapping of organizations and companies while bringing in the pool of the alliance. She also stressed the need of basket fund. Mr. Bhawani Kharel of IUCN also pointed out the need to strengthen the alliance.

Responding to the query of Mr. Rana B. Rawal about interest of FSC in the Expo held in USA, Dr. Subedi responded, a large number of people made interest in the sustainability. And so, we should also come to the single pool to work issues in production be it FSC or of any other kind.

Dr. Tirtha Bahadur Shrestha said the mapping should be done taking into account the grass-roots interventions of organizations. The alliance requires holistic perspective and broader vision. Someone has to coordinate every thing. We may have five working groups, as Dr. Subedi suggested. Thanking all the participants and wishing the continuity of such crucial discussions, he concluded the meeting.

The meeting was presided over by Dr. Tirtha B. Shakya.