Non-timber forest products, such as fruits and medicinal plants, have become fashionable in forestry circles in recent years, although some critics argue their economic importance has been exaggerated.
A new paper by CIFOR scientists Ousseynou Ndoye, Manuel Ruiz Perez, and Antoine Eyebe titled ’The Markets of Non-Timber Forest Products in the Humid Forest Zone of Cameroon’ provides evidence on the size of the markets for four of these products (Dacryodes edulis, Irvingia spp., Cola acuminata and Ricinodendron heudelotii) in Cameroon, as well as on the amount of employment these markets generate. It also analyzes how these markets function and the traders who participate in them.
The study highlights the role of non-timber forest products as a source of employment and incomes not only for gatherers but also for traders. It shows that during the first half of 1995, more than 1,100 traders, most of whom were women, engaged in the distribution of some $1.75 million dollars worth of the four products analyzed. One factor favoring the markets’ expansion has been increased urbanization resulting from rural to urban migration. The marketing margins obtained by the traders varied between 16 per cent (for Dacryodes edulis) and 30 per cent (for Irvingia spp.) of the value of sales.
The paper was originally published as an ODI Rural Development Forestry Network Paper.
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