Himalayan Bioresources: Volume 1, Issue 1

August-September-October-November 2010

5 Lessons Learned while Transforming Local Communities into Enterprises
ANSAB just completed a 3-year project titled “Transforming Local Communities into Enterprises for Economic Security in Nepal”. The project developed 917 economic entities in 8 different districts and integrated them into promising value chains such as lokta (Daphne spp.), yarshagumba (Cordyceps sinensis), wintergreen (Gaultheria fragrantissimia), bio-briquette, soap-nut (Sapindus mukorossi), allo (Girardinia diversifolia) and timber. It helped 12,639 rural poor double their annual income from enterprise activities, generating US $1,640,866 from an initial investment of US $866,306 – a return of 189%. This ratio is poised to increase over the years as enterprises continue to generate income without outside support. The project also made effective interventions in sustainable forest management and harvesting by organizing all enterprise activities around 166 Community Forest User Groups and by building these groups’ capacity.

The article below highlight 5 key lessons learned that contributed to make this success possible and that demonstrate how the approach taken could be replicated elsewhere in Nepal and South Asia:

1. CFUG subgroups provide a promising mechanism for sustainably and effectively managing community forests while promoting social justice: The main idea behind subgroups is to enrich disadvantaged people (ultra poor, women, Dalits, etc.) and motivate them to conserve biodiversity by handing them exclusive control over specific areas and/or income generating activities. Over the 3 years of the project, the concept progressively won over sceptics and now CFUG leaders such as Krishna Bahadur Karki, chairperson of Thangsadeurali, told ANSAB that they plan to provide other patches of degraded community forest to more subgroups.

He proudly explained: “The amount of efforts put on conservation of forest and plantation of Argeli devolved to 4 subgroups in my CFUG is impossible for me to organize at the CFUG level.” He added: “They have high motivation because of the clear link between their responsibilities and their benefits, which are specified in subgroups management plans developed thanks to ANSAB’s support.  Most of the people in the subgroups are ultra-poor and were never effectively organized before under the CFUG framework, rather acting as a major threat to the community forest. Now they are the first to come in CFUG meetings and to participate in the community’s conservation activities.” Similar successes have been realized by 100 subgroups in 47 CFUGs, representing 2,252 households.

2. National marketing enterprises are a key component of value chains: To ensure sustainable income generation for disadvantaged people, the project had to support all layers of the value chains. It notably worked intensively with national enterprises to plan and organize their supply requirements from the project districts, as well as to design, develop and market the end products in national and international markets.

Many achievements vindicate the emphasis placed on this particular layer of the value chain. Himalayan Green Energy Pvt. Ltd. (HGEPL), a new national company developed from scratch to efficiently market the bio-briquettes supplied by rural community enterprises, for example now stands as the main briquette marketing company in Nepal. Managed by a consortium of 5 community enterprises created by the project, it sold 120,000 briquettes through 51 retail outlets and 7 distributers for a total income of US $27,027 in 2009 alone.

3. To foster social justice and inclusive development, efforts must be targeted, well designed and, just as importantly, persistent: Before the beginning of the project, members of the Dalit caste in Bajhang district had never been able to participate in the harvesting of high value products such as Yarshagumba because of local beliefs that if they did, some negative consequences (sickness, death, etc.) would happen. To overcome existing prejudices, ANSAB had to devote more energy to the inclusion of disadvantaged people in enterprises activities than originally planned. With perseverance (the project organized a total of 1,377 formal activities involving 78,475 people to ensure the genuine participation of all community members) the integration objectives were however finally met.

The project for example established that beliefs about Dalits contaminating natural resources were a myth and that all humans are equal and have the same rights to use natural resources. Dalits in Bajhang now have their own subgroups and enterprises with rights over the harvesting and processing of several NTFPs. No less than 42 CFUGs targeted by the project have established enterprises development revolving funds (EDRF) which dedicate most of their grants and technical assistances to DAG. More importantly, perhaps, CFUGs have become supportive of allocating a greater share of the new economic opportunities created by the collection and transformation of previously unused natural resources to poor and marginalized members.

4. Local leadership is crucial for the success of community enterprises: The project area mostly consists of backward rural mountain communities. Past experience showed that, let to themselves, communities have difficulties to select the best leaders for emerging enterprises. When the communities meet to select leaders, an individual with vested interest or incongruous character can for example come forward and show its commitment by offering to manage the enterprise voluntarily. He is likely to get the job over more qualified candidates because traditional leadership in communities has been exerted “voluntarily” and of the greed to reduce the enterprise operating costs.

The project tackled this type of issues by initiating dialogue in small groups or at individual level in the communities prior to the meeting for leader’s selection. Qualities required of good leaders (mainly entrepreneurship, dedication and social motive) were placed at the heart of these discussions, which also introduced the concept that a good manager can in fact pays back far more than what it costs to hire him or her.

Proper selection is only the first step required to groom effective and dedicated leaders. Experience also showed that good managers often lose interest in the enterprises after a while and start focusing on how to ensure that their individual qualities improve their own livelihood. After testing various modalities of leadership in many community enterprises for about a decade, it was found to be very important to give managers a good share in the enterprise (wherever possible) and/or good incentives tied with performance. It was also found that although business experience can obviously be an asset, a thorough assessment of the leader social motive was also required.

5. There is more to community enterprise development than technical trainings and machinery: Although awareness is rising among development professionals that a comprehensive approach to sustainable forest management is required to address poverty issues, most of programs still only include machinery supply and technical trainings in their plans for the development of community enterprises. This project has once again showed that enterprises development is a complex venture that cannot be limited to these two elements and that must also include many social interventions to organize very poor and remote community into groups, build their capacity and integrate them into remunerative value chains.

Read the entire report >>

The Transforming Local Communities Into Enterprises for Economic Security in Nepal project was made possible thanks to a US$ 400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The Foundation supports leaders and organizations working on the frontlines of social change worldwide. Its goals for more than half a century have been to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. It seeks to create political, economic and social systems that promote peace, human welfare and the sustainability of the environment on which life depends.

Learn more >>

ANSAB, ICIMOD and FECOFUN Granted US $1.8 million for Major REDD Project
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) recently approved funding for a project jointly proposed by ANSAB, ICIMOD and FECOFUN to design and set up of a governance and payment system for Nepal’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation through conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD plus) initiatives. The total budget is approximately US $1.8 million for the next three years. It was awarded on a competitive basis among the 139 projects submitted to NORAD’s Climate and Forest Initiative Funding Scheme for civil society.

The funding will allow the three partners to build on the pilot projects they conducted in three districts over the past year to demonstrate the feasibility of REDD payment mechanism in community forest management. Lessons from the projects will be used to design a nation-wide system that is effective, credible and benefit to marginalized groups.

Learn more about this project >>
Learn more about the previous phase >>

Three Major Partners-led Projects Launched
> Participation Action Research (PAR)
: Led by ICIMOD, this research is a component of the multi partner HIMALI project funded by the Asian Development Bank the Government of Nepal. It will promote six prominent value chains (Wool, Cheese, Apple, Seed, Potato and MAPs) of high mountain regions of Nepal.
Read more about the HIMALI project >>

> Expanding FSC certification at landscape level through incorporation of additional ecosystem services: This project is managed by FSC international and executed by UNEP together with partner countries. It will test FSC forest management certification for ecosystem services in four pilot countries. ANSAB will be the country focal point for Nepal. Read more about the inception workshop >>

> Nepal Forest Resource Assessment: This project is led by Indufor Oy and is co-financed by the Nepalese and Finnish governments. It will improve the provision of forestry data and its processing for Nepal’s forest policy development and for forest sector decision-making. Read more about this project >>

Government of Nepal Active on Multiple Fronts in Community Forestry
Departments of the government held consultations with stakeholders on a variety of issues in the past few weeks. These included a multi-Departments meeting to discuss the current status of the value chains of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant (MAP) products; a workshop organized by the Ministry of Environment on the upcoming National Adaptation Plan of Actions (NAPA); and two different feedback workshops organized by the REDD Forestry and Climate Change Cell of Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation on the draft Readiness Preparation Proposal (RPP) for REDD.

Learn more on NAPA in Nepal >>
Learn more about REDD Cell >>


Indian mastiche
Himalayan rhubarb
Indian valerian
Dried ginger
Cinnamon 35.5
June 2010 prices in NRs./Kg. Average of five markets (Kathmandu and Nepalgunj for Nepal, Delhi, Tanakpur, Lucknow and Kolkata for India). Variations calculated from the previous month.

Medherb Green Pages 2010 – India and Nepal
This 400 pages directory provides complete information and in-depth knowledge on all trade-related aspects of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs), with a special focus on Nepal for the first time in 6 years. Highlights include:

> Stakeholders directory listing detailed contact information for more than 5000 dealers, exporters, importers, extractors, manufacturers, cultivators and related organizations from India, as well as 350 dealers, exporters, importers and extractors from Nepal;

> Export figures of more than 55 MAPs and allied products;

> Information on international standards for sustainable wild collection, herbal drugs testing laboratories, adulterants and substitutes of commercial drugs;

> CITES list, Nepal Gazette on MAPs royalty, procedures of drug registration, and other related information;

> Special features on Gulab, Henna, Isabgol, Senna, Alaichi and Yarsagumba.

Learn more and order >>

Guidelines for Measuring Carbon Stocks in Community-Managed Forests

Reducing emissions from deforestations and forest degradation (REDD) has gained major traction in the international climate negotiations. Evolving discussions on REDD have brought forest at the forefront of climate change mitigation and adaptation as never before.

Among others, successful REDD programs demand reliable and cost-effective methods for measurement and monitoring of forest carbon storage. Despite the involvement of several academic and development organizations in Nepal, common, accurate and user-friendly forest carbon measurement methodologies were still lacking in the country.

These guidelines were drafted to fill this gap. They describe methods, procedures and steps for measuring carbon stored by forestry land use system. They introduce globally accepted equipments, instruments, methodologies, procedures and standards in forest carbon measurement and offer a detailed recipe to use them more efficiently and effectively in Nepal’s specific context.

Learn more and download >>

The 34th Nepal NTFP Network (NNN)  annual sharing meeting was held at ANSAB headquarters on April 21, 2010. It was chaired by the Director General of Nepal’s Department of Forests and attended by senior level government officials, journalists, bank representatives as well as by several experts from the NTFP sub sector. The meeting was highly fruitful as it identified needs on the ground and led to several concrete recommendations:

> develop a course focusing on Community Forestry Enterprises (CFEs);

> prepare brochures of 25 NTFP products detailing technological aspects; and

> prepare one brochure vulgarizing legal and policy requirements related to NFTPs, with special provision for CFEs.

Participants also agreed to form a task force for developing a comprehensive NTFP inventory as well as nation-wide methodology guidelines for their exploitation.

Consult the complete minutes of the meeting >>

International Conference on Biodiversity, Livelihood and Climate Change in the Himalayas
Celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity 2010, the Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, and the Ministry of Environment, Government of Nepal, are jointly organizing an International Conference on “Biodiversity, Livelihood and Climate Change in the Himalayas, ICBLCC-2010.”

The ICBLCC-2010 is expected to discuss issues related to biodiversity and climate change as well as cross-sectoral issues with particular emphasis on natural resources of the Himalayan region. The conference will also assess achievements on the Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 target to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss and an international regime on access and benefit sharing at regional and national levels.

Next Important Deadlines:

> Submission of abstract August 31, 2010

> Second and final circular August 31, 2010

> Registration (normal rate) October 31,

Obtain more information >>


ANSAB to Be Part of a New Forestry Research Network Working Group
ANSAB was recently selected by the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation to become a member of a working group to form a Forestry Research Network in the country. It has started to discuss with other members about potential collaborative researches projects in the short-term and about developing national strategies for forestry research in the long-term.

Yarshagumba and Forest Certification Documentaries Now Available on YouTube

ANSAB recently opened a YouTube channel to make its video material more easily available to all. The first additions are two fascinating, 30 minutes long documentaries titled In Search of Yarshagumba and  Forest Certification: Steps Towards Sustainability. Let us know what you think in the comment section!

Watch the documentaries >>

ANSAB Website Enhanced

Several new features have been added to www.ansab.org. It is now possible to search the website content by type, topics and geographical locations and to subscribe to subject-specific Email/RSS feeds such as Publications, Price Lists and NNN Meetings Minutes. Several new success stories have also been added. Stay tuned, as ANSAB is planning to take advantage of the new design to post dozens of additional publications.

Browse current publications >>