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More than two billion people around the world depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for food, shelter, medicine, fuel, and cash income. Despite their importance for sustaining rural livelihoods, furthering rural poverty alleviation, biodiversity conservation, and facilitating rural economic growth, NTFPs have not received the sustained and systematic support given to conventional agriculture and forestry. Instead, they remain largely neglected by national and local government development strategies, donor priorities and often overlooked by the formal private sector. Where markets for NTFPs do exist, informal trade has in many cases led to over-harvesting and to opaque trading structures and inefficient markets.

With a more effective regional and inter-regional institutional infrastructure to encourage systematic and sustainable resource management; develop more formal product markets; provide technical, financial, and marketing assistance to producers; and promote policies that facilitate the sustainable use and marketing of NTFPs, this under-harnessed sub-sector could make a significant and ecologically sustainable contribution to rural economies and environment.

The Global Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Partnership, henceforth referred to as the “Partnership”, links global, regional, and national organizations currently engaged in research and development activities concerning the systematic conservation and management of NTFPs in four regions: Africa, East and Southeast Asia, Latin America, and South Asia. Leveraging a regionally-focused, global network, the NTFP Partnership tries to raise the profile of NTFPs and enhance capacities, relevance and effectiveness of partners, producers and all other stakeholders.

Organizational Description and Governance

The Partnership has established a Coordination Unit (CU) in New Delhi, which is facilitated through INBAR. The coordinator assumes supervisory, organizational and coordination responsibilities for all activities of the Partnership in 2007. A Steering Committee (SC) will be constituted to oversee the work of the CU. Initially, a limited number of groups or task forces (TF) will be set up to backstop activities in a number of selected priority areas.

It is envisaged that the governance structure will evolve along with the developing portfolio of the Partnership. This will include Regional Focal Units for liaison with the regional fora, groups or task forces to backstop and support ongoing technical work of the Partnership in focused technical or cross-cutting areas, and distributed responsibilities for business development, i.e., donor liaison and project/proposal development. Leadership in the various technical and cross-cutting areas will be vested in partners with relevant and outstanding expertise. SC and TF will be constituted from among the partnership members.


To promote collaborative efforts, synergies and economies of scale for addressing strategic NTFPs research and development issues of global relevance for contributing in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


Develop, provide, and promote best practices, relevant information sharing, sound technologies, ethical trade & enterprise activities, sound conservation and development solutions, and pro-poor policies and institutional framework to benefit people and environment.

Contribute to sustainable forest management through social and environmentally friendly economic solutions to the use of NTFPs to benefit NTFP-dependent rural communities around the world.

Goal: Enhance the quality of life of poor and disadvantaged peoples around the globe making favourable impacts on quality of life and livelihoods of poor and marginalized communities.

Purpose: In pursuit of the mission and goal, the purposes of NTFP partnership include: a) identifying, coordinating and supporting demand driven, people-centred and livelihood-focused research and development work consistent with the priorities set by national programs, local stakeholders and global and regional partner organizations; b) building skills and enhancing capacity of research and outreach organizations; and c) strengthening national, regional, and international coordination, cooperation and collaboration and networking.

Value Statements

1. The Global NTFP Partnership is a multi-level stakeholder platform that fosters a partnership approach to R&D and brings into play a more diverse range of actors than conventional approaches;

2. Partnership-based approaches require considerably higher commitment in time for partners' identification, consensus building, complementarities, strategy formulation, and evaluation; all these together serve to develop capacity including networking and information exchange;

3. The Partnership is based on the following principles: a) Complementarity and recognition of institutional roles; b) Promotion of innovative mode of collaborative research based on an “open nucleus” principle in which partners are active parts; c) Facilitating collaboration of a critical mass of researchers and pooling of research outputs in key areas of strategic importance; d) Promote the development of action-oriented R&D network or working groups; e) Enhance economies of scale; f) Foster learning processes.

Goals and Strategies

Goal 1. Strengthened profiles of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) and stakeholders

Efforts to promote wider recognition of the economic and ecological importance of NTFPs have not gained sufficient traction in national policy debates. Internationally, there is a notable lack of collaboration and networking. NTFPs continue to be considered marginal products that have not received the desirable attention for management interventions and institutional and financial investments given to more conventional agricultural and forestry products. The Partnership will build on the experience of previous NTFP programmes, with its profile raising activities being rooted in the partners’ competencies and local action research sites.

The ability to scale up research and development activities from the partner sites will be the ultimate measure of the Global Partnership’s success. Here, the Partnership’s strong institutional base will facilitate the sharing of institutional, financial, ecological and marketing innovations from locally-based activities to a broad regional and, where applicable, global communities.

The Partnership will strengthen NTFPs’ and stakeholders’ profiles by:

Strategy 1.1 Developing a global institutional system that leads and coordinates among a broad range of NTFP stakeholders

Strategy 1.2 Building a partner network based on actors who are or could be well-positioned to undertake and promote NTFP research and development

Strategy 1.3 Coordinating a range of multi-stakeholder activities around action research partnership sites, designed to create the basis for regional sectoral cohesion and multiplier effects

Strategy 1.4 Designing and launching awareness programmes aimed primarily at policymakers, producers, market players and users

Strategy 1.5 Scaling up of successful practices and innovations

Goal 2. Enhanced capacities of partners and producers

Key task of the Global Partnership is to strengthen the role and status of partner organizations and skills of producers, for creating greater national and regional level support for NTFPs marketing and management.

The Partnership will enhance capacities of partners and producers by:

Strategy 2.1 Enhancing technical and market knowledge and skills through facilitating regional and global training initiatives

Strategy 2.2 Developing and/or facilitating the use of systems and tools to improve access to information, knowledge and technology

Strategy 2.3 Facilitating the establishment of rural financing systems providing micro-credits to rural producers and entrepreneurs

Strategy 2.4 Facilitating the establishment of producer associations, rural enterprises and other means to empower producers and collectors and to increase incomes along value chains

Strategy 2.5 Developing and disseminating successful partnership models

Goal 3. Improved NTFP frameworks: markets, policies, and livelihood opportunities

Both supply and demand factors hinder more vibrant NTFP markets. On the supply side, producers often lack access to credit, technology, and skills. On the demand side, markets are often enshrouded in informal arrangements where traders have monopsony or oligopsony status. In combination, supply- and demand-side constraints mean that producers are typically relegated to the lowest rung of the value added ladder. Where NTFPs are collected, over-production as a result of falling per unit prices can lead to the depletion of the resource base which, in turn, threatens producers’ livelihoods. The creation of well functioning NTFP markets where producers add more value will require both supply- and demand-side interventions.

Many of the policy issues most relevant to NTFP marketing and management are not NTFP specific, e.g., use rights. Supply chains are often inefficient because of broader regulatory measures restricting local or international trade. While many of these issues are also country specific, a global partnership can provide a forum for developing and sharing best practices among partner countries. Because of regional trade linkages many policies that govern trade also have implications for the marketing and management of NTFPs. The Partnership will provide a forum for recognizing cross-border issues and identifying ways — whether through coordinated policy or more formal supply chains — to address them.

The Partnership will improve markets, policies and livelihood opportunities by:

Strategy 3.1 Improving producers’ access to market information

Strategy 3.2 Identifying policy issues in both NTFP marketing and management, both within and across regions as well as locally

Strategy 3.3 Developing and disseminating policy recommendations

Goal 4. Improved NTFP management systems

In part due to the market forces mentioned above, NTFPs collection, extraction, and cultivation has in many cases proved environmentally destructive, both to NTFP species themselves and to surrounding ecosystems. In cases where management techniques are more sustainable, either based on traditional skills or science-based interventions, learning has been cloistered or the ability to share information locally or regionally has often been limited.

A second difficulty in making inventory of sustainable management techniques lies in the sheer diversity of NTFP species. Some NTFPs are collected; others are cultivated. Because of this diversity, formalizing knowledge of flora and fauna and management techniques suited to different regions has proved a daunting task. Models — whether centralized or decentralized; global, national, or local — for better cataloguing NTFP species and management approaches are still underdeveloped.

The Partnership will improve NTFP management systems by:

Strategy 4.1 Developing models for the scientific inventory of NTFPs and encourage species-specific research for in-situ and ex-situ conservation interventions

Strategy 4.2 Encouraging and facilitating action research on scientific extraction and prevention of destructive harvesting and on cultivation

Strategy 4.3 Collecting and disseminating information and knowledge about improved NTFP management systems


Goals for Steering Committee and Coordinator

Functions of the Steering Committee

1. Review progress in achievement of goals of the Partnership annually

2. Analyse the implementation of various strategies and if required, request amendments in the strategies for achieving the various goals

3. Approve the five year/ long-term ‘Action Plan’ as well as annual action plans for the partnerships

4. Approve action research and demonstration sites in the partner countries

Duties and functions of the Co-ordinator

1. Ensure smooth functioning of the Secretariat of the Global NTFP Partnership

2. Develop a Global NTFP Partnership website and ensure its updating with information on all activities of the Partnership

3. To remain in constant touch with the member Focal Points and pass on quickly information on the developments taking place under the Partnership

4. Play a facilitating role bringing together the partners in this initiative

5. Draft agenda for the meetings of the Steering Committees and obtain comments of the members

6. Organize meetings of the Steering Committee and regional Focal Points

7. Develop draft ‘Operational Plan’ for next five years and annual action plans and ensure follow-up on decisions taken in various meetings

8. Facilitate identification of research and development priorities in the NTFP sector

9. Project annual requirement of finances (including in-kind contributions) for the Partnership

Monitoring and Evaluation

M&E will be the primary responsibility of the Coordination Unit. In addition, the Coordination Unit will prepare the M&E plan in consultation with all the partners. Logframe(s) with outputs and related indicators will be developed and will provide the basis for M&E. Consideration will be given to two different applications of indicators, i.e., performance and impact.

The NTFP Partnership will adopt an impact pathway planning and analysis approach. The assumption is that projects and programs will better achieve and communicate impact if they describe their impact pathways and then monitor and evaluate progress along them. A project's ex - ante impact pathways are the likely causal chains linking project outputs to outcomes to final impact, together with descriptions of stakeholders’ tasks.

Quantitative and qualitative indicators will be determined at the project planning stage. Baseline information will be collected at the project inception stage. Impact data collection will be a regular project feature; impact reports will be produced by the Partnership’s projects on an annual basis.


Launch Meeting of the Partnership in Marrakech, December 2005
Launch Meeting of the Partnership in Marrakech, December 2005

Declaration on the Establishment of the Global NTFP Partnership

Adopted at the Global NTFP Partnership Inception Workshop, held on 1-2 December 2005, at Marrakech, Morocco

The Global Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Partnership Workshop, convened by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) and sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and attended by representatives of various stakeholders,

Recognizing that:

1. NTFPs are plant resources that underwrite the survival of about 2 billion poorest of the rural and urban poor, and among the most valuable of all plant resources for our present and future security - for food, fuel, health and income security, and traditional knowledge.

2. NTFPs are an important means of addressing the Millennium Development Goals and the global effort to combat climate change.

3. NTFP products are characterized by unregulated extraction, limited value addition at source, informality, lack of stakeholder organization and support infrastructure, minimal credibility of the sector amongst policy makers and investors, despite rapidly expanding markets.

4. Policies in the NTFP sector are largely top-down, and are often revenue-driven and not livelihood-driven, to the detriment of poor rural and urban communities.

5. Informality of the sector often results in middlemen and contractors taking advantage of people’s ignorance regarding the actual market prices, as alternative marketing channels are not so easily available to the local collectors.

6. There is insufficient collaboration and networking in the NTFP sector, such that much learning remains unavailable to others.

7. NTFPs have not received the kind of institutional and financial investments that food and timber resources have had through the CGIAR system and forestry institutions, and have been orphan resources institutionally despite their vital importance.

8. Institutionally, the sector has no strategic global system and support, and only fledgling knowledge systems that capture the learning, financing is project based, without a shared institutional framework and strategy or formal information gathering and sharing systems.

We consequently resolve that:

9. To establish this day the Global NTFP Partnership that is field-based and founded in the Action Research Partnership Sites of partners in several countries.

10. The Global NTFP Partnership will be an institutional framework that brings together existing and new field sites of the partners for common good and understanding.

12. The programmatic elements of the Partnership are a function of their local relevance to communities within local Action Research Partnership Sites with strategic technical, financial and marketing partnerships but together provide globally relevant strategic policies.

13. Technical issues on specific NTFPs common to several sites will be worked on by NTFP-specific Technical Working Groups that will bring in diverse interested partners.

14. Issues on thematic areas of supply chain management, marketing, pro-poor commoditization, financing systems, etc., will be addressed by cross-cutting NTFP Thematic Groups.

15. A global learning and knowledge repository and management system which collects, secures, organizes and delivers information and knowledge both locally to those who need to benefit the most, and globally to those who have the knowledge and experience to make it happen, will be put in place. An annual calendar of training events and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) materials would be developed to complement the above.

16. The programme will be a stakeholder-led initiative with a strong bottom-up issue based and priority setting strategic approach focused on capacity building, knowledge-sharing and validation in the forest/on farm, with supporting institutional arrangements that will be put into place in project locations.

17. A range of strategic partnerships will be developed to make available the range of knowledge and skills that will be needed. Where possible, private sector partnerships will be encouraged.

18. The initiative will, at the outset, make use of the partners’ in-kind contributions (including sites, staff resources, information and knowledge) to consolidate previous and ongoing activities and outputs. All partners commit to making efforts in fundraising to expand the scope of the initiative to further sites, NTFPs, projects and activities.

19. The initiative remains open to future cooperation with other relevant initiatives and partners.

We the undersigned endorse the establishment of the Global NTFP Partnership and resolve to work together to achieve its goals. Signed on the second of December 2005, in Marrakech, Morocco.

GFAR GPP Process

The Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) is a forum for the discussion of strategic issues in agricultural research for development (ARD). It facilitates and promotes cost-effective partnerships and strategic alliances among ARD stakeholders in their efforts to alleviate poverty, increase food security and promote the sustainable use of natural resources. GFAR stakeholders work together to define and develop the GFAR Programme of Work and activities in a consultative manner. The seven GFAR stakeholders are: National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), international agricultural research centres of the CGIAR, advanced research institutes, farmers' organisations, NGOs, private sector, and donors and development agencies.

New modes of research collaboration are emerging as part of the gradual shift in the organisational structure of science and research towards more collaborative modalities and participatory approaches. The Global Forum, as a multistakeholder led initiative, was established precisely to facilitate and promote the emergence of these "new and innovative" research partnerships, which can play a key role in the process of building the emerging Global Agricultural Research System in ARD. For this purpose GFAR is fostering Global Partnership Programmes (GPPs) which are collaborative programmes, projects or activities initiated, developed and implemented by recognized GFAR stakeholder groups, and which remain open to participation by other stakeholders as and when they find a suitable niche. GPPs seek to exploit the comparative advantages of participating stakeholders, and are aimed to be implemented at the most effective level - local, regional or global.

In March 2004 an agreement was reached between GFAR and INBAR to develop the GPP. A concept was developed and discussed between the GFAR Secretariat, FAO and INBAR at a meeting in Rome; there has also been limited electronic polling in Asia to determine interest in such a GPP of various partners, which indicated strong interest (August 2004). In October 2004 a presentation of the proposal was made to the GFAR Steering Committee Meeting in Mexico City. The proposal was supported by APAARI and FARA. The GFAR newsletter reported that "The Steering Committee recommended that the NTFP programme continue the consultation process to ascertain the true global nature and relative interest of stakeholders in a GPP around the NTFP theme."

Consequently, the regional fora in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been consulted with and the proposed GPP on NTFPs was welcomed:

- Presentation to the APAARI General Meeting in Bangkok; APAARI welcomed the GPP on NTFPs (December 2004).

- Presentation to the AARINENA Executive Committee Meeting in Marrakech; AARINENA supports the GPP (December 2004).

- Presentation to FORAGRO in Panama; FORAGRO supports proposal as a necessary initiative (April 2005).

- Presentation to FARA (side-event and plenary), no objections (June 2005).

- The Governments of India, Ecuador and Mozambique are supporting the GPP.

Further, a representative of the NTFP Partnership was invited to participate in the GFAR Learning and Review Workshop on Global Partnership Programmes in Rome in January 2006. The objective of the GFAR review process was inter alia to establish clear guidelines for the development of GPPs.

At the GFAR Programme Committee and Steering Committee meetings in November/December 2006 in Washington, the NTFP Partnership was approved as a GFAR Global Partnership Programme.

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