A PROJECT that is expected to produce policy recommendations toward sustainable forest and non-timber forest products is being implemented in Myanmar, according to the Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
Called the "Assessment of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in Mountainous Regions of Myanmar towards Community Forestry Development," SEARCA said the project was visited by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Working Group on Social Forestry (AWGS-SF) Strategic Response Fund (ASRF) program management team on February 21 to 23.
The project was endorsed by the Forest Research Institute (FRI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation to the ASRF to identify NTFPs in mountainous regions of Myanmar and develop value chain analysis (VCA) of promising NTFPs.
Thaung Naing Oo, AWG-SF leader and FRI director, presented the project accomplishments and remaining activities.
He said the implementation of the project began in February of last year and as of February this year, the project team has conducted two case studies in Than Daung, Kayin State and Putao, Kachin State.
The ASRF program management team was able to identify more than 50 kinds of NTFPs in the project site.
Among these, Thaung said one promising NTFP for each site was selected for VCA that included Cardamom in Than Daung, and Rattan in Putao
Cardamom is native throughout tropical and sub-tropical Asia and is used as a flavoring and cooking spice. Rattan, on the other hand, is extensively used for making baskets and furniture.
SEARCA said the government of Myanmar aims to develop 50 community forestry products — one community, one product — by 2020.
It said the result of the study would be presented in a workshop to be attended by relevant stakeholders on community forestry in March, which will provide relevant inputs to the achievement of their national government's goal.
The ASRF program management team said it also collected NTFP specimens in the project sites that would be displayed in a museum that the FRI is currently upgrading.
The management team and Ei Ei Swe Hlaing, AWGS-SF focal point and FRI assistant director, also visited the Than Daung Township to observe the project site and interact with stakeholders.
Ei said that the result of their VCA would provide business information to stakeholders, who were interested in investing in value addition of Cardamom, especially since the technology for processing it was not available in the township.
Saw Chucholl, village chairman, also shared their experience in accessing NTFPs from the forest and specifically provided information on the access and use of Cardamom, and how it is being sold in the market as one of their sources of livelihood.
He said the farm gate price of Cardamom was very low because they were selling it as raw materials to traders.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provided funds for this project through the SEARCA-ASRF program.