6th Sharing Meeting of NNN

October 5, 1999

The sixth meeting of the NNN Advisory Group was held on Tuesday October 5, 1999 at the SNV/Nepal office, Bhakundole, Lalitpur. Kenneth Nicholson of SNV chaired and facilitated the meeting.

Those Participating in the Meeting

  1. Bhairav Risal (BR), NEFEJ
  2. Bhaweshwor Das (BD), NSCFP
  3. Bhishma P Subedi (BS), ANSAB
  4. Francois Lafreniere (FL), CEBED/CECI
  5. Ganga Sen (GS), CERMA
  6. Hari Prasad Neupane (HN), FECOFUN
  7. Hari Sharan Luitel (HL), NAF
  8. Hemant R Ojha (HO), ANSAB
  9. Kenneth Nicholson (KN), SNV Nepal
  10. Lil Bahadur Bhandari (LB), Kanpou-Nepal
  11. Narendra Rasaily (NR), NACRMP
  12. Parameshwor Khati (PK), CERMA
  13. Pratap Man Shrestha (PS), FAO
  14. Rajendra Khanal (RK), CARE Nepal
  15. Ram Hari Subedi (RS), Gorkha EXIM
  16. Surya B Binayee (SB), ANSAB

The Meeting Agenda

  1. Follow-up on the main issues from the last meeting:
  2. Central MIS
    • Training Manual writers’ workshop
    • Recommendation for the review of forestry regulations
    • Update of NNNAG members activities 
  3. National level priorities and guidelines in NTFPs sector
  4. NTFP quality standards
  5. Nepal NTFP Network and Forestry Sector Co-ordination Committee (FSCC)�
    • Long term linkages
    • Immediate inputs into the upcoming FSCC meeting

Summary of the Discussions and Conclusions 

1. Welcome and opening
KN welcomed the participants to SNV Nepal. He mentioned SNV decided to host this meeting with great enthusiasm but unfortunately the sudden demise of an SNV fellow at Dolpa struck SNV family with sorrow and surprise. SNV Country Director and other staff who were very much interested to participate in the meeting were mournig on the event at the same time. The SNV was closed that day for the same reason.

He also threw some light on why and how SNV is increasingly interested in NTFPs. He mentioned that SNV’s mandate worldwide is to build the capacity of local organizations to support the disadvantaged, and added that NTFPs found along with the poor in remote areas are an important area to work in. Although it is very difficult how poor are benefited, SNV takes up the challenge.

With these remarks, KN gave a little background, for the benefits of the new visitors, of how NNNAG operates bi-monthly meetings and task forces.

2. Getting Introduced
KN asked those who came for the first time in the NNNAG meeting to introduce themselves. The process started with Bhairav Risal, who introduced himself as the general member of the Nepal Forum for Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ). He said that NEFEJ is interested in both development and conservation. They recently conducted a three-day workshop to facilitate the ‘diagnosis’ and ‘prescription’ of the development problems in Humla; the idea behind this was to help Humli people to identify their problems themselves. He found NTFPs interesting so he accepted invitation to attend the meeting from ANSAB. He made an exciting remarks on NTFPs,saying “Chyau (mushrooms), Jhyau (Mosses) are nature’s invaluable gifts in the northern belt, and Syau (apple) can be added to bring development”.

Lil Bahadur Bhandari said Kanpou is involved in Argeli/Michumata. He came to the meeting expecting new ideas. Parameshwor Khati has been involved in mobilizing communities and other stakeholders. They are working in Palpa, Dolakha, Morang, Sunsarr with other organizations. Rajendra Khanal said he was previously associated with SNV/Humla and he recently joined CARE Nepal as agricultural specialists. He looks after agriculture, forestry and livestock. He said NTFPs are becoming CARE’s important working area. They are trying to integrate NTFPs in Rapti, Bajhang and Bajura. He wants to learn more about NTFPs. He gave a talk to CARE staff upon participating on the three-day workshop organized by ANSAB in September 1999.

In the mean time, KN raised a concern over the minutes circulation – when people keep on changing whom to send the minutes. It would be better if minutes are sent to someone centrally located so that s/he can circulate it to all interested in the organization.

Old members also gave a short briefing along with their updates on activities sometime later. It was however realized that introduction of all should go simultaneously. 

Action:
a) Each NNNAG organization has to decide a central/nodal person for NNNAG representation/contact

3. Market Information System 

Highlighting the background of this issue, KN said one of the task forces, four months back, analyzed this issue in detail. Since everybody says market information is a constraint, we decided to take up this issue – how to provide right information to the right peoples? The idea was to establish a reliable market/price information system on traded NTFPs. We at task force (ANSAB, FECOFUN, Ram Hari Subedi, and NSCFP) talked MIS at three levels: local, district and central. As far as local level is concerned, Karnali is a good place to test and learn more. While district level MIS may be developed within the existing projects, we need to work out a separate project for the central level. A concept paper has been developed to translate the idea into a separate project. KN pointed out the issue of financial sustainability – it is difficult to get income through selling the information, as too few are willing to pay for it. 

KN and BD said we have not progressed much towards translating the concept into a project.

FL highlighted some inevitable challenges that come across while attempting a MIS initiative. He raised the question of costs, reliability of information, sources of information and knowing the price trends over time. KN appreciated the issue and said this is why the concept paper proposes to allocate much of the budget to gather correct information through high quality staff (a director plus a database management type of person). Francois emphasized the need to pay for high quality information rather than the staff. He does not see any interest in giving the information of the information-giving agents. Once the information is broadcast on the radio or newspaper, we won’t get the information twice. 

RS added that there are some (Nepalgunj Jaributi Association) who shared price information. But it was stressed in the floor that we need to distinguish actual prices from offered prices. Francois again mentioned we have a reasonable plan so we should have an organization to take up (maybe FECOFUN or ANSAB). BD added the concept is clear but the challenge is to develop the proposal. BS summarized the discussion saying the task is challenging but we need to do something. We can use several sources over a period of time for ensuring the quality of information. HN stressed the importance of ensuring information access to the collectors at the ground level. He added that information is captured by elites at all levels, and so long as we cannot come down and empower the lowest level we can not benefit them.

PS shared two ideas in this regard. There has to be a formal set of institution to take up the project. Government organization should take up the project, as they are the permanent organization. But I/NGOs definitely have a role to support and facilitate. Second, co-operatives such as that evolved in Leasehold forestry project area can have better access to information. 

KN summarized the discussion on MIS by saying we really need to resolve several issues and need to try out the idea on pilot/action research basis.

Action

  1. circulate the concept paper to those interested 
  2. have a task force meeting before the next NNNAG meeting

4. Training Manual Writer’s Workshop

KN threw light on the agenda saying the task force has met twice to explore ways on developing the training material/manual in Nepali. We have used existing framework such as MA&D. We explored to some extent the training needs as well. A concept paper has been developed. For the next step, we plan to have a writer’s workshop to outline the manual. Resource persons in the field of marketing, resource management, social/institutional aspects and technology are being identified for the workshop. We are aware that we are not translating from the English materials to Nepali, but adapting the existing frameworks. Because of time constraint, it is always getting delayed.

BD highlighted the need for training rangers before they are able to support the farmers/FUGs. Only 2-3 FUGs out of 100 have incorporated NTFPs in their operational plans. BR stressed the need for local languages as well as their scripts to be used in such initiatives, apart from Nepali. PS said we need to categorize the NTFPs and define the focus. NPC/Government have carried out trainings in 25 districts and developed proceedings/materials, which could be of value to us. BD shared some observations in these trainings in Dolakha and Ramechhap: they are confined to medicinal plants within the scope of HPPCL, focus on cultivation and yield rather than economics and marketing, formats good but no quality information. 

KN summarized that all such experiences can be shared through writers’ workshop but who should facilitate and when? 

Action

  1. Organize writers’ workshop in January 2000.

5. Policy Revisions

Illuminating the agenda, BS said that a set of recommendations have been sent to the Department of Forest for revising the existing regulations towards increasing the benefits to local people and promoting conservation of biodiversity. He added a few crucial issues have been taken up while suggesting for change, rather than a big list. These recommendations were reviewed in the NNNAG meeting before finally submitting to the government (please contact ANSAB if you like to receive a copy of the recommendations). 

PS informed that the ‘revision file’ is being processed at the ministry and asked if anybody knows the actual status of it. BS responded that he was expecting a representative from the ministry to attend this meeting and inform about this but none was there. PS also informed that FSCC working groups are being extended from the existing three to five, putting NTFP as one of the additional agenda. FL added that the recommendations made by the NNN are appropriate and match with Karnali NTFP subsector study recommendations. We should now lobby donors and government to influence FSCC decisions and expressed his commitment to lobby with NARMPSAP and CIDA. It’s a bit surprising that FSCC represents government and donors but not the other sections of Nepalese society. 

NR pointed to a difficulty encountered in the process of developing/amending operational plans of FUGs. Due to the lack of guidelines and methods of NTFPs (which cover roots, tubers, leaves, fruits etc), the operational plans are not being approved. The individual differences between DFOs have also resulted in the differential treatment of the matter. BS reacted that if things such as these can be incorporated in the government guidelines, the situation could be improved. 

HN expressed concern over the possibility of resource degradation when we consider only the marketing aspects. BD again emphasized the need for training the rangers who support the communities. HN said that training FECOFUN members at the district level could also help in the process of building FUG capacity in NTFP management. NR added that rangers have to cover a wide geographic range (14 VDCs per ranger) so local NGOs also have to be trained to support FUGs. HO summarized that government rangers, FECOFUN and local NGOs all can be trained simultaneously. PK spelled out the need for follow up on the trainings given. 

BS reminded that we are on the policy agenda. What we should concentrate at this time is how we can proceed in pushing through the recommended revisions in the regulations. BD said if we do not train and build the capacity at local level while influencing policy from the top, there may be gaps. PS said I/NGOs can support several activities (such as growing stock assessment etc.) irrespective of any change in regulations. So this aspect too has to be incorporated in the MIS project. We as projects can work species –wise to generate information. 

BS informed that we at ANSAB have been working on species like Jatamasi and Lokta. This information may be applied to other areas with adaptations. RS also informed that 3-4 species (Chiraito, Jatamasi, Panchaule) have been studied in Gorkha in aspects of domestication/cultivation. 

HO asked the floor if it is possible to prepare a compendium of literature on available NTFP species. BS urged all to consider this at organizational level before the next meeting. On the policy agenda, he asked all to lobby from all possible corners. 

Action

  1. think over the possibility of working on some species (ecology, growth, assessment techniques, management systems etc) and share in the next meeting
  2. lobby for the revisions on the regulations from all possible corners

6. NNNAG Members’ Updates

KN asked all to briefly update the NTFP related activities executed after the last NNAG meeting or planned for the near future. A highlight of the activities is given below:

Kanpou-Nepal

  1. Eight ton argeli exported to Japan
  2. Organized producers’ meeting (there is no one to look after Argeli in national forest. Quality is a major issue while exporting to Japan. The real price of Argeli is declining due to international competition with China and Korea and quality). We are increasingly concerned over the fraction of benefits the actual collectors get, and lobbying with the people we work with for a range of Rs 70-100 to be given to the collectors. 

NSCFP

  1. Designed and delivered trainings in Dolakh and Ramechhap
  2. The project mostly busy with self-evaluation

FECOFUN

  1. Organized NTFP workshop at Dadeldhura
  2. Awareness campaign in Terai on the scope and importance of NTFPs
  3. Sensitization types of meetings and workshops

NAF

  1. Continuing in Dandapakha in partnership with NACRMP
  2. Support FUGs/Co-operatives with DFOs

FAO

  1. Forest Resource Promotion Programme
  2. Exploration of NTFPs

NACRMP

  1. Work through NAF (technical aspects) and VDRC (social aspects) 
  2. Consultancy to identify marketing options (6-8 months)
  3. Consultancy to timber marketing (1month) 

Gorkha EXIM

  1. MAPs/herbal tea processing and international marketing (sale of USD 10000-15000)
  2. Planning to visit France on trade promotion

ANSAB
Conducted a three-day National Training Workshop on Enterprise Development Planning in NTFPs Sector. 

The workshop was designed to enhance the capacity of Nepalese institutions to render business development services to micro and smallscale entrepreneurs in the natural products sector. The main purpose of the workshop was to provide an opportunity to the participants share, discuss and learn the basic concepts, process and techniques of micro-enterprise development in forest and other natural products sector in the prevailing social, ecological and technological context. There were altogether 32 participants from I/NGOs, ministry of forests and soil conservation, bi/multi-lateral projects, FUGs and FECOFUN, DDCs, and NTFP entrepreneurs from around the country. The participants were exposed to various tools for business opportunity analysis. Overall, the workshop focussed more on what and why of the issue rather than in-depth discourse on specific NTFPs and the details of the processes and tools. Towards the end of the workshop, the participants developed action plans. The plans reflected tremendous interests and commitment on the part of the participants towards gaining more knowledge, initiating some enterprise activities, exploring further training opportunities, and several others.

  1. Developing a Manual on natural Product Enterprise Development Planning for use by enterprise facilitators
  2. Baglung workshop/partnership with NUKCFP
  3. Dolakha enterprise development
  4. Published and distributed the NTFP newsletter (Himalayan Bio-resources) on behalf of Nepal NTFP Network in September 1999
  5. Plan to participate in Nepalgunj workshop (NTFP planning and implementation workshop)
  6. Plan to undertake a study on assessment of community-based enterprises in forestry sector in collaboration with SNV

SNV

  1. Supported Karnali activities: workshops
  2. Supporting UNDP/MEDEP
  3. Supporting Bhutan
  4. Collaboration with RECOFTC
  5. Working with SECOW and ANSAB
  6. Plan for a study on identification of enterprise modalities with ANSAB

Action

  1. Send conceptual framework of the enterprise study to interested members

7. Quality Standards
KN highlighted the issue of quality standardization. He informed that he is having correspondence with some organizations for Jatamasi product certification. Responding to PS’s feeling that both quantity and quality are the constraints, RS said for Jatamasi not the quantity but the marketing is a problem. The quality parameters vary with the end-use to which the product is put – perfumes or medicines. BD said that different chemotypes have been observed in Jatamasi oils from various localities so chemical aspect is more important than the physical.

8. National Level Priorities and Guidelines in NTFPs Sector
BS highlighted on the importance of national level guidelines in NTFPs sector, and asked whether we need to push for it. PS said this is very important, and we should document species-wise knowledge, prioritize the NTFPs on the basis of established markets and need to develop enterpreneurship. NR asked whether the IDRC workshop proceedings have come out. HN suggested we as representatives from various organizations can suggest the government for developing such guidelines. PS emphasized that this issue has to be raised in the upcoming FSCC meeting through which guidelines may be prepared and implemented. HN and NR emphasized that despite time shortage, we need to give some input. KN suggested for a small committee to explore further the issue. PS informed that there are technical sessions of FSCC between opening and closing where we can discuss the issue. 

A committee has been formed to carry it forward: 

  1. Pratap M Shrestha
  2. Hari Neupane
  3. Ken Nicholsosn
  4. Narendra Rasaily
  5. Bhaweshor Das
  6. Bhishma Subedi

Maksha R Maharjan from NUKCFP will also join the committee (Mr Maharjan showed his interest to the committee members). 

The committee will meet first on Monday October11, 1999 at ANSAB at 11.00 a.m. Tentatively, the committee will do a white board exercise, prepare and finalize drafts of the inputs for the FSCC meeting. 

After this, KN asked all to revisit the role of NNN. He informed that Last NNNAG meeting (November) discussed over the role of NNN. He circulated the minutes and asked the participants to think and review. He asked if there is a need to formalize the network. 

9. The Next Meeting
The next meeting of NNNAG will be held on Friday January 21, 2000 at 13.00 at ANSAB office. Lunch will be served at the outset of the meeting. Ram H Subedi will chair the meeting. Possible agenda for the next meeting are: 

  1. Review of NNN roles 
  2. Review of NNN input to the FSCC

With this, KN closed the meeting, thanking all participating in the meeting.