Livelihood

Though originally the NTFP EP focused on forest products and the value addition and marketing to enhance the livelihood options of forest-based peoples it has become increasing obvious that a large number of communities obtain a substantial part of their incomes and sustenance from agriculture. After some deliberations it has been decided that the network will work on both NTFPs and traditional crops within the purview of “livelihoods”.

organic-farming8Within the agricultural area the network is concerned with post-harvest handling of crops (some processing, storage), market governance, and access to government schemes during all stages of the crop, appropriate technology, etc. The dwindling resource base of several crops – in particular the effects of hybrid varieties of maize, cotton, rice, sugarcane, etc., that have displaced many traditional strains of millets, rice, pulses and maize – has led to the NTFP EP network work towards a rejuvenation of traditional agriculture and mixed cropping, also of vegetables. Gender, which is cross-cutting element through all the themes, gains special focus here. Across the network cooperatives and producer groups have been established to facilitate the collection and marketing of many of the NTFP and agricultural produce, some of these produce also marketed through outlets based outside their states.

A crucial part of the livelihoods programme is paying attention to the resource base, especially if the raw material is sourced from the forest. This aspect links the livelihood theme to conservation as products are monitored, and declines in their quantity or quality immediately noticed for actions to be taken. New areas that are being explored are tree-borne oil seeds, some yams, spices, etc.