36th Sharing Meeting of NNN

Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources (ANSAB) organized the 36th sharing meeting of Nepal NTFP Network (NNN) on March 15, 2014 with the following agendas:

Major agenda
• Presentation and discussion on Prioritizing NTFP enterprises & support options that deliver integrated, intensified and climate smart land use
• Discussion on EIA/IEE provisions in CFUG

Other agenda
• Sharing of the activities and programs in NTFP sectors by the participating institutions and individuals
• Identification of tentative agenda for next NNN meeting

1. Introductory session
Puspa L. Ghimire, Programs Manager of ANSAB, welcomed the participants and briefed on the agenda of the meeting. He expressed his expectation that the participants would provide their valuable inputs and ideas, and wished the network would be able to produce concrete outputs for developing community based enterprises in the country. Upon his request, the participants provided their brief introduction.

Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi, Coordinator of NNN and the Executive Director of ANSAB briefly introduced NNN. Since its establishment in 1995, NNN as a forum of community, business, donors, environmental, and government representatives, discusses and work together on natural resource management in the country. NNN has 50 organizational and 250 individual members. The Network activities have contributed to sharing of knowledge and information, collaboration among NTFP actors and minimization of duplication of efforts. Through serious deliberations, NNN has identified some strategic NTFP promotion intervention nodes: training, marketing, policy review, and they are being addressed by several organizations.

2. Presentation and Discussion on Prioritizing NTFP enterprises & support options that deliver integrated, intensified and climate smart land use

Dr. Subedi presented on assessing and designing support activities for most promising NTFP enterprise options that would make the greatest contribution to socio-economic impacts and integrated, intensified and climate smart land use. The presentation focused on the methodological framework (Table 1) and outcome of the prioritized NTFP enterprises (Table 2) and support activities that ANSAB developed and studied lately.

Table 1: Methodological Framework—

  1. Selection of study area
    • Impact in terms of income generation and sustainable resource management
  2. —Shortlisting of enterprise options
    • Criteria development
    • Review of current national trade strategy
    • Rapid markets visit
    • Interaction with concerned stakeholders
  3. —Preliminary Screening
    • Industrial growth potential
      • Review of market demand (trend, comparative & competitive advantages)
      • Review of enabling environment
      • Review of resilience in the face of climate change
    • Income potential for smallholders
    • Mapping attractiveness
  4. —Final screening
    • Assessment of integrated impact
      • Gender, Food security, Energy security, Climate change mitigation and adaptation, Biodiversity, Soil fertility and nitrogen inputs
  5. —Framework for support options
    • Detailed review of challenges
    • Assessment of supports needed

Based on the methodological framework, 22 districts – 20 of the western and central mid-mountain regions and mid-mountainous portion of the 2 mountain districts (Dolakha and Sindhupalchok) were considered. Eight enterprise options were shortlisted after the following criteria:

  • a history of production, collection and trade of the product in the area at least locally by the community
  • high potentiality of increasing production at the local level by introducing new variety, crop and technology
  • high potential for local value addition through improved trade practices and processing
Table 2: Shortlisted Enterprise options

  1. Handmade paper
    • Lokta (Daphne sps.)
    • Argeli (Edgeworthia gardeneri)
  2. Essential oils
    • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
    • Juniper (Juniperus)
  3. Medicinal and aromatic plants
    • Tejpat (Cinnamomum tamala)
    • Dalchini (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
    • Chiraito (Swertia chirayita)
  4. Gums and resins
  5. Biomass-based energy
  6. Large cardamom
  7. Ecosystem-based commercial farming
  8. Fruit-based tree crop
    • Lapsi, pears, peach and plum

A preliminary screening of the enterprises was done by attractiveness mapping based on industrial growth potential and income potential for smallholders. Four of the eight enterprises were found to lie in the attractiveness zone (Table 3).

Table 3: Attractiveness of the enterprises

Income Potential

High Handmade paper enterprises

Essential oil enterprises

Large Cardamom enterprises

Biomass based energy enterprises Ecosystem based farming enterprises
Medium Fruit based tree crop enterprises

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants enterprises

Low Gums and resins enterprises

Low

Medium

High

Industrial Growth Potential

Final screening was done with the integrated impact scoring of the enterprises in terms of their contribution/impact to gender, food security, energy security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, soil fertility and nitrogen inputs. Based on the scoring, the top two enterprises – biomass based energy enterprises and ecosystem based farming enterprises were finally selected for designing support options.

The required support options were finally designed for the enterprise considering the brief context, issues and challenges. The recommended support activities for the two enterprises are presented in Table 4.

Table 4: Prioritized support options

Biomass based energy enterprises

  • —  Support for new technologies
      • Testing and demonstration of appropriate pellet making technology
      • Introduction and testing of accessories, esp. for industrial use
      • Quick ignition techniques
  • —  Market expansion and appropriate promotion strategies
  • —  Organizing, capacity building and demonstration at various levels
  • —  Improving policy provisions and practices
      • Recognition as a green energy and provision of incentive
      • Removal of trade barriers incl. transportation
      • Support for certification

Ecosystem based commercial farming enterprises

  • —  Need to develop business case from production to marketing
      • Identify sets of farming components, practices, inputs and technologies
      • Explore options for business models
      • Design initial farm production and business models
      • Test effectiveness of potential farm production and business models at pilot scale
  • —  Increase access to finance, markets and technologies
  • —  Transfer practical knowledge and skills through training and demonstration

A discussion followed after the presentation, where the participants discussed on the approach and outcome of the presentation. The participants mentioned that the approach was well developed and it could be adopted while program design and approach. The participants also shared their experience for some support measures to NTFP enterprises. Research and development (R&D) on technology, market and conducive environment was mentioned as the most needed support. Support for providing incentives to research, and the commercialization and systematization of research are necessary. An actionable point in this regard could be the identification of the research need from the private sectors that could also be shared in this type of forum. Other support measures could be the assistance to the enterprises for cultivation at commercial scale. Production of the products in volume (at least at the level of a truckload) and their transportation sealed in a truck would reduce the transport barriers. Sometimes donor-assisted mass production of NTFPs doesn’t capture the sustainable market demand leading to their overproduction as is currently observed in Stevia and Aloe Vera sub-sectors. In this context, support in the feasibility study of the products should be ensured before the cultivation and production of NTFPs. Some other support options for the NTFP enterprises could be the assistance in uniform quality and quality control, certification, and authenticity and validity of the products for gaining continuous demand in national and international markets.

3. Sharing of the activities in NTFP sectors by the participating institutions and individuals

A sharing session followed after the presentation and discussion where the participating institutions and individuals shared on their current activities in NTFP sectors.

Two projects – HIMALI and HVAP of the AEC/FNCCI have identified NTFP as having potential for improving livelihoods of the community while conserving biodiversity. HIMALI is providing upto 80% of grant for the farmers group for enterprise development. The commodity associations, FNCCI and the PMUs have been supporting the user groups in preparing business plan.

SNV has been promoting NTFP sectors beyond the prioritized commodities (example as identified by the Herbs and NTFP trading policy) and is currently working in NTFPs including kurilo, aloe vera, and essential oils – mentha, eucalyptus and citronella.

Himalayan Naturals is exploring on the opportunity of linking the forestry sector to the energy sector. Currently they are involved in producing bio-briquettes at community level and have been marketing the products in urban market centers. A fair benefit sharing mechanism has been established among the communities and the marketing company.

The Institute of Forestry, Pokhara has established NTFP based museum and been supporting in information dissemination. They are working on increasing research activities in the sector with coordinated efforts of the government.

Department of Plant Resources (DPR) of the government of Nepal has been conducting and providing services in the field of research and development of plant resources in Nepal. The research component is vibrant and conducting resource survey and collection of plant materials and preservation of the specimens, chemical and biological researches for the utilization of medicinal, aromatic and other valuable plants, and biotechnology research, improvement and propagation of plants of economic value.

Nepal Herbs & Herbal Products Association (NEHHPA) has documented the commonly traded medicinal and aromatic plants of Nepal and developed NTFPs/MAPs Business Promotion Strategy (2012-2016) focusing private sector’s perspective.

ECARDS has been working on knowledge sharing and promoting understanding of the dynamics of the NTFP related activities.

Raising Income of Small and Medium Farmers Project (RISMFP) of the Government of Nepal has been working to reduce the market and business risks faced by the small and medium farmers diversifying into high value commodities in the Mid-West and Far-West Development Regions of Nepal.

WWF Nepal has been addressing the sustainable harvesting issues of NTFPs/MAPs in mountains of Nepal and been working on providing concise information of the prioritized species.

RIMS has been implementing and conducting research and development projects in the field of community forestry, entrepreneurship development, policy advocacy and social justices.

The NTFP section of the Department of Forest of the Government has been working in reducing the transportation hurdles and barriers of NTFPs in the country. They have recently provisioned the sealing of the products in the origin and opening that in the destination to reduce the hurdle. They have also been studying on the prospects of NTFPs for income generation and smooth operation of NTFP enterprises.

4. Discussion on EIA/IEE provisions in CFUG

A brief discussion on the recent amendment of the Environmental Protection Regulations (1997) on EIA/IEE issue regarding community forestry was made. With this amendment, there is now no provision of IEE/EIA while preparing the work plan of the community forests up to 500 hectares, while IEE is provisioned for the community forests from 500 to 750 hectares and EIA for community forests above 750 hectares. While this increase in threshold for IEE/EIA has some positive impacts in terms of community forestry handover and establishing community enterprises with resources from these forests, there was an understanding among the participants for preparing operational plan by inventory of NTFPs and then incorporating that in the CFUG operational plan instead of IEE/EIA. The CFUG operational guideline already considers economic, social and environmental elements with scientific inventory procedure and acts as a tool for sustainable forest management and the existing provision of CF inventory also considers most of the elements of the requirements of IEE/EIA. So, there is need to harmonize the CF and IEE/EIA practices and process to make the process efficient and less bureaucratic.

5. Identification of the agenda for next NNN meeting

Some possible agendas identified by the participants for next NNN meeting are:

  • Identification of the technological need of the products from the organizations working in the sector
  • Identification of the research need for the conservation/restoration of NTFPs while improving livelihood and promoting climate

The participants will also suggest agenda if they find it appropriate for discussing in the NNN forum. Agendas could also be proposed if the participants want to share important information and researches on NTFPs.

6. Closing

Dr. Annapurna Nanda Das, Director General of DPR delivered the closing remarks. He mentioned that identifying and addressing challenges should be dealt in holistic instead of facing them piecemeal. He thanked all the participants for their active participation and announced the closing of the meeting.

List of the Participants

Participants Organization
1 Dr. Annapurna N. Das Department of Plant Resources
2 Prof. Abhoy Kumar Das NFA
3 Dr. Namrata Singh Ministry of Agriculture Development
4 Pradip Maharjan AEC/FNCCI
5 Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi ANSAB
6 Basant Pant ICIMOD
7 Reshna Udas LI-BIRD
8 Gopal Ghimire ECARDS Nepal
9 Dhan Rai WWF
10 Brahma Dhoj Gurung Rupantaran Nepal
11 Govinda Paudel Forest Action
12 Hem Raj Bist Department of Forests
13 Shiva Adhikari RIMS Nepal
14 Sunita Dhungana Institute of Forestry, Pokhara
15 Govinda Ghimire NEHHPA
16 Sushil Gyawali Himalayan Naturals
17 Hari Chandra Poudyal Discover Nepal Exports
18 Kabir Ratna Sthapit ANSAB
19 Binod Basnet NTNC
20 Bishu Tripathi RIMS Nepal
21 Khilendra Gurung HBTL/SBTG
22 Puspa L. Ghimire ANSAB
23 Dr. Kalyan Gauli ANSAB
24 Sudarshan C. Khanal ANSAB
25 Sita Ram Dahal NTFPR
26 Anil Shrestha SNV Nepal
27 Deepika Adhikari ANSAB
28 Ganesh Raj Acharya ANSAB
29 Yubaraj Subedi ANSAB
30 Dr. Shruti Mishra ANSAB