NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar – The ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry (AWG-SF) Strategic Response Fund (ASRF)program management team visited a project being implemented in Myanmar, Assessment of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) in Mountainous Regions of Myanmar towards Community Forestry Development, on 21-23 February 2019. This project was endorsed to the ASRF by the Forest Research Institute (FRI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) to identify NTFPs in mountainous regions of Myanmar and develop value chain analysis of promising NTFPs. It is expected to produce policy recommendations towardssustainable forest and NTFP management.
Dr. Thaung Naing Oo, AWG-SF Leader and Director of FRI, presented the project accomplishments and remaining activities. Implementation of the project began in February 2018, and as of February 2019, the project team has conducted two case studies in Than Daung, Kayin State and Putao, Kachin State. The team was able to identify more than 50 kinds of NTFPs in the project site. Among these, one promising NTFP for each site was selected for value chain analysis (VCA), Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) in Than Daung and Rattan (Calamus sp.) in Putao. Cardamom is native throughout tropical and subtropical Asia and is used as flavoring and cooking spice. Rattan, on the other hand, is extensively used for making baskets and furniture
It was further reported that the national government aims to develop 50 Community Forestry Products (one community, one product) by 2020. The result of the study will be presented in a workshop to be attended by relevant stakeholders on Community ForestryonMarch 2019. This will provide relevant inputs to the achievement of their national government's goal. As an added activity, the team collected NTFP specimens in the project sites, which will be displayed in a museum that the FRI is currently upgrading.
The ASRF program management team and Dr. Ei Ei Swe Hlaing, AWG-SF Focal Point and Assistant Director of FRI, visited the Than Daung Township to observe the project site and interact with stakeholders. Mr. Saw Chucholl, Village Chair, shared their experience in accessing NTFPs from the forest. Specifically, he 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 highlighted that the farm gate price of Cardamom is very low because they are selling it as raw material to traders. Dr. Ei Ei Swe Hlaing emphasized that the result of their VCA will provide business information to stakeholders who are interested in investing in value addition of Cardamom, especially since the technology for processing Cardamom is not available in the township.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provides funds for this project through the SEARCA-ASRF program.