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I wonder if scenarios like these - where there are clear conservation and livelihood benefits when tenure and ownership of biodiversity is secure - can be achieved without external intervention? (2 answers)

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If such scenarios are so reliant on that initial contact between producer communities – who are often fragmented geographically and facing the challenges of poor transport which complicates the movement of bulky or perishable goods – and a market which is prepared to pay a price which reflects social and environmental costs, then one might ask how sustainable they are in terms of conservation and poverty reduction, and how easy they might be to scale up?

Elaine Marshall

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    Nov 25, 2008
    Elaine asks if results such as have been achieved with Chamaedorea can be achieved without external intervention. This is a good question but I think all of us are involved in some sort of external intervention to promote biodiversity conservation or livelihood benefits or some other objective and it becomes more a question of how we shape the external intervention, in close collaboration with the communities/people we are trying to benefit to produce those objectives. In our case it was through a more direct link between producers and the consumer.

    ·  I think it is also important to minimize the need for external intervention to make sure these efforts are sustainable in the long term. We are trying to set up the ordering and marketing so that we do not have to be involved. Orders this past year went through us to a wholesaler but that arrangement could easily be taken over by a wholesaler who purchases from the importer. We are keeping track of sales for research purposes and will be following up with the consumers that purchased palms this year and the communities that produced them.

    ·  Part of our intervention has been to consciously look for options to improve livelihoods. In the case of Guatemala, the palms were already an important part of families’ cash income often harvested throughout the year and our objective was to help maintain and improve that income. Through our market studies we were able to identify a sizeable market niche that would help improve income from the palm sales and also provide the option to organized community groups to use income from the palms as capital for other investments.

    ·  Another benefit that has developed as part of this work and the work of our partners is a more direct link between the importer in Texas and the harvesting communities. Based on a request from Rainforest Alliance we set up a meeting in Guatemala between the importer and the communities that has led to a standing contract between the communities and the importer. Due to the ability of the communities to produce a quality product the size of the contract has increased and prices have also improved.

    ·  The other benefit of the direct link to the importer is that previously all sorting and packing was done outside the gathering communities. Now this is done in the communities and provides jobs for women that previously were not available. The women have taken over that part of the operation.

    Dean Current
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      Nov 25, 2008
      Very interesting to hear from Dean that they are attempting to make the Chamaedorea activities a stepping stone to enable people to move into other enterprises. This recognises the point made by David yesterday about NTFP markets being very dynamic. We've all heard of the boom-and-bust scenarios and one of my concerns is that some organisations still focus support on just one NTFP without recognising its role in the wider livelihood of local people. In Elaine's and my work we found that many NTFPs were successful specifically because they combined well with (or complemented) some other livelihood activity of the producer or could be marketed jointly with other products. Understanding these relationships is essential if we aren't to end up pushing people to rely too strongly on one NTFP, rather than seeing it as one way to reduce their vulnerability through diversification.

      It will be interesting to follow the further developments of the Chamaedorea story to see whether it really does enable people to move into other activities, and how widespread the benefits are within communities. The global comparison of 61 NTFP case studies by CIFOR (the three books can be downloaded from the CIFOR website) suggests that the 'specialised' strategy, which enables people to make a significant amount of their income from the NTFP, usually occurs in areas which are well-integrated into the market and almost always requires production through plantations rather than wild-harvesting. However, from what Dean has described, you may be overcoming some of the disadvantages of lack of market integration and reliance on mostly wild harvesting through good contacts with traders - which was
      something Elaine and I also found to be extremely important.

      Kate Schreckenberg

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ID2408
Date CreatedTuesday, November 25, 2008 12:07 PM
Date ModifiedTuesday, November 25, 2008 12:07 PM
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