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Commercialisation of non-timber forest products: first steps in analysing the factors influencing success

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Recent research has indicated that non-timber forest product (NTFP) commercialization is often not successful. Analysis of the factors influencing success of NTFP commercialization has been hindered by the lack of an appropriate analytical approach for comparison of case studies. A methodology recently developed by CIFOR (centre for International Forestry Research) was tested and further developed by examining 16 NTFP case studies in 2 workshops held in Mexico and Bolivia involving a variety of stakeholders involved in NTFP commercialization. Workshop participants identified a wide range of measures by which the success of NTFP commercialization can be defined, which included improvements in social justice, community organization and local culture, as well as economic status. Participants then considered the factors influencing the processes involved in NTFP commercialization: production, collection, processing, storage, transport, marketing and sale. In total, 45 factors were identified that significantly limit one of the commercialization processes. Generally, product marketing and sale were found to be those processes most constraining overall success. These results illustrate how participatory methods can be of value in analysing the success of NTFP commercialization, and how a process-based approach can provide an analytical framework for comparison of NTFP case studies.

E. Marshall, A.C. Newton and Kate Schreckenberg