Amla – building value in Bhutan
Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) provide income generating opportunities for poor and remote households in Bhutan. Up until 2006, there was no legal framework for harvesting and trading NTFPs.
To help overcome this problem, SNV provided substantial support to the Department of Forests and Park Services to develop the 'National Strategy for the Development of Non-Wood Forest Products in Bhutan (2008-2018)' and the policy document 'Framework for Management and Marketing of Non-Wood Forest Products' (adopted in 2009). SNV also supported the development of Guidelines for Resource Assessment and Management of eight NTFPS including canes, chirata, lemon grass, pipla and yula. Up to 2011, 47 NTFP groups have been established all over the country, and the number is likely to increase.
Under the IFAD-funded Market Access & Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP), SNV provides advisory support to the Social Forestry and Extension Division and the District Forest Office to improve and upscale income generation opportunities of NTFPs in Samdrup Jongkhar District. Lauri geog (smallest political unit) has been selected for the initial pilot, while opportunities are being assessed for up-scaling.
SNV promotes a value chain approach for the development of the NTFP sector in Eastern Bhutan. A value chain is a sequence of processes and functions that take a product or service (here in this programme NTFPs) from its inception through production, processing, marketing, and finally to end buyers or consumers. A value chain approach means taking a market-based systems-perspective driven by end market opportunities. The key is to promote improved cooperation and relationships among the value chain actors that will result in sustainable, inclusive economic growth that reduces poverty andcontinueson its own once the project intervention or subsidy is over.
Commercialisation of NTFPs has to meet stringent requirements to ensure sustainable management of these natural resources. Guidelines for resources assessment and management, geog-level NTFP strategies, business plans of NTFP groups, etc. contribute to this.
Market scans and value chain analysis is to ensure that the intervention strategy benefits poor people and meets market demands. Strengthening of NTFP groups to enable NTFP collectors to access the market and service providers with less transport cost, as well as to improve their business and negotiation skills. Facilitation of group business plans will contribute in proper marketing of NTFP products and value addition within the country. At the same time, trainings like Book and Record Keeping help strengthen transparency and accountability within NTFP groups. Brokering and fostering connections within the value chain through increased capacity, facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue among traders, producer groups and commercial or government service providers. Develop additional resource assessment and management guidelines for potential NTFPs not yet covered by the existing guidelines. SNV is also developing enrichment and cultivation guidelines for the most potential NTFPs, which is a new approach for Bhutan. Facilitation of geog-level NTFP strategies to improve the local enabling environment and ensure sustainable practices.
For Lauri geog pilot, the target is to increase incomes of at least 400 households with USD 55 by mid-2014, by supporting 8 NTFP groups and community forest groups. Similar results can be achieved in other seven geogs already assessed in Samdrup Jongkhar, and even to all geogs in Samdrup Jonkhar and Pemagatsel Districts.