HARNESSING NON-TIMBER FOREST PRODUCT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Non-Timber forest products (NTFP) play an important role in the daily life and well-being of millions of people worldwide. NTFP include products from forests, from other wooded land and from trees outside the forest. Rural and poor people in particular depend on these products as sources of food, fodder, medicines, gums, resins and construction materials. Traded products contribute to the fulfilment of daily needs and provide employment as well as income, particularly for rural people and especially women. Internationally traded products, such as bamboo, rattan, cork, gums, aromatic oils and medicinal plants, contribute to economic development. However, most NTFP are used for subsistence and in support of small-scale, household-based enterprises. Despite their real and potential importance, national institutions do not carry out regular monitoring of the resources or evaluation of the socio-economic contribution of NTFP as they do for timber and agricultural products.
Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) are the forest products derived from both plants and animals whose tangible values are often made to evade reaching a nation’s exchequer. Throughout the human history, these products are used by a variety of purposes like food, fodder, fiber traditional medicine, agricultural amenities, domestic materials, construction materials, and the likes. Many traditional beliefs and cultures are also associated with these products. 
Growing demand equal more opportunity for African producers, the NTFP are the go to agricultural produce for Africa food producers, they are produce that can give a farmer fast money and improve their income. We can call it the MMM for Africa farmers, there are different Non-Timber Forest Product and they have different opportunities embedded in them, African farmers should learn how to harness this opportunities to its fullest.


Let us take a look at twenty Non-Timber Forest Product;
Shea Butter
Shea Butter is coveted by global cosmetic companies for its amazing moisturizing properties. As an increasingly sought after ingredient in everything from soothing and nourishing hair and skin care products to lip balms and exfoliating creams – the benefits of Shea butter are in high demand across the globe. It usage as cosmetic and food production. Opportunities like moisturizer production, oil production and it can be used to treat different skin diseases.
Gum Arabic
Steeped in legend, gum Arabic is not only an exotic commodity but also has the power to drive development in the African nations that produce it, which are among the poorest nations in the world. A natural product derived from hardened acacia tree sap, harvested in the Sahel region of Africa, gum Arabic is used primarily by the food industry. It is used as a stabilizer, a binder, an emulsifier or a viscosity-increasing agent, not only in confectionery, soft drinks, wine, liquor, and dietary fiber, but also for non-food products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, printing, ceramics, photosensitive chemicals, textiles, paper, ink, paints and adhesives, you can start an idea from any of this.

Honey
Honey is a sweet, viscous food substance made by honey bees and some other bees. Honey gets its sweetness from the monosaccharide’s fructose and glucose, and has about the same relative sweetness as sucrose (table sugar). Honey is produced by bees collecting nectar and honeydew for use as sugars consumed to support metabolism of muscle activity during foraging or to be stored as a long-term food supply. It can be used as food and also be fermented for alcoholic beverages, chefs and beverage producers have a lot of opportunities embedded in them as the creativity of it usage would land the users a big opportunity. You could be a bee keeper or an honeysuckles retailer.
Ewe Moin moin (Thaumatococcus danielli)
Many ladies don’t how to use this leaves to make moin moin but even as the 21st century keeps getting everything civilized, this leaves has not lost it swag to civiliasation at all, till now every moin moin spot where this leaf is used, tens of youth and adult queue up to buy. Thaumatococcus daniellii is a plant species from Africa, known for being the natural source of thaumatin, an intensely sweet protein which is of interest in the development of sweeteners. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. This leaves can be used to provide an alternative to sugar thereby reducing the health challenge that comes with sugar. You could be a retailer or producer of the leaves or better still target the pharmaceuticals as they are very important for drug production.
Local Fish
Fish are aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ray-finned fish, belonging to the class Actinopterygii, with over 95% belonging to the teleost subgrouping. Fishes could be a source of multiple income, it could be processed, it could be boiled, it could be fried and it can also be well packed and processed. You could be a local fisherman, retailer and also a processor. It can be sold fried, smoked and fresh.
Crab
After seeing a lot of k-dramas and eating a lot of crabs in some high rated eatery, I can easily say being a crab farmer, processor, harvester, or marketer could easily make you a young millionaire and in a long run a billionaire.
Locust bean
Local research has shown that locust bean helps to promote good sight and drives away hypertension and diseases conditions like stroke and diabetes. Locust bean needs improved packaging, branding and better marketing. This opportunities are open to you, you can harness this.
Vegetables
Vegetables are well-known for being good for your health. Most vegetables are low in calories but high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. However, some vegetables stand out from the rest with additional proven health benefits, such as the ability to fight inflammation or reduce the risk of disease. A nutritionist could be harnessed as an opportunity, an agriculture enthusiast could check through being a vegetable producer, a vegetable processor could also be sourced out of the vegetable production value chain.
Local Fruit
A fruit is the fleshy or dry ripened ovary of a flowering plant, enclosing the seed or seeds. Examples include Tamarind, Iyeye, local apple, are all technically fruits. An agriculture enthusiast could look into juice production, a fruit marketer could be sourced as an opportunity, an agriculture enthusiast could also look into being a fruit processor.
Rattan Cane
Rattan canes are one of the world’s most valuable non-timber forest products. Some species of rattan also have edible scaly fruit and heart of palm. Despite increasing attempts in the last 30 years at commercial cultivation, almost all rattan products still come from wild-harvested plants. Rattan supplies are now rapidly threatened due to deforestation and overexploitation. You might want to consider the medicinal usage of rattan, you might want to explore cane production, and you could also explore weaving and basket production from rattan.
Local Spice (Alligator Pepper)
The plants which provide alligator pepper are herbaceous perennial flowering plants of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), native to swampy habitats along the West Africa. It is a common ingredient in West African recipe, it is called ATARE in Yoruba land where it imparts both pungency and a spicy smell to soups and stews when cooked. It seems to be going out of place due to civilization, you could take this up as a producer, being a marketer would be a good opportunity for any smart goal harnesser.
African Giant Land Snail
This snail is different from the African giant snail (Archachatina marginata) normally offered in Nigeria. The giant African Land snail is a macrophytophagous herbivore; it eats a wide range of plant material, fruit, vegetables, lichens, fungi, paper, and cardboard. It sometimes eats sand, very small stones, bones from carcasses, and even concrete as calcium sources for its shell. In rare instances, the snails consume each other, snail eggs, and other deceased small animals such as mice and birds. In captivity, this species can be fed on a wide range of fruit and vegetables, plain unseasoned mince, or boiled egg. Are you interested with being a rare specie snail farmer? You could consider raring this snail for tourist attraction.
Raffia palm
In local construction, raffia fibers are used for ropes, with branches and leaves providing sticks and supporting beams, and various roof coverings. The frond is usually cut from a young palm tree and they are also used for beautification and horticultural usage. To be an horticulturist could have popped in your mind by now, production of cane could have also popped in your mind.
Local Fruit (Bitter Kola)
Bitter kola, also known as bitter cola, is a plant found in Central and Western Africa that has long been valued for its medicinal properties. Although traditional African medicine uses all parts of the Bitter Kola plant, the seeds are mostly commonly eaten. Bitter kola seeds have a sharp, bitter flavor that eases into a slight sweetness as you chew, and they’re typically eaten raw. You could be a producer of bitter kola, a marketer could also be a millionaire in a twinkle of an eye.
Local Vegetables and Herbs (Bush Pepper)
As the term suggests, bush pepper is a miniature pepper that can be grown as a potted plant. Planted between June-August, bush pepper can harvested in January-February. This is very uncommon in Nigeria and it can also be harnessed due to it usage. Opportunities to harness now are unending, opportunities like the branding, packaging and marketing of the produce. A middle men for the major production company or farm can also be harnessed.
Local Vegetables and Herbs (Bush Onions
The bush onion (Cyperus bulbosus) is an annual sedge with grassy leaves and chocolate brown seed heads. The roots produce many small bulbs up to 10cm underground. This has been one of the most important food plants in the bush area in Central Australia for tens of thousands of years, especially in times of drought. The bush onion has tiny edible bulbs just like onions and around April/ May is the best time to pick them. They’re gathered by digging in the sand and can either be eaten straight away or cooked in hot ashes. This could be used as a great recipe for chefs, it could be the best tasteful secret that a chef can use to grow his or her restaurant.
Local Spice (African oil bean)
Call this with ease, Pentaclethra macrophylla, which is also known as the African oil bean, tree is a large size tree with long compound leaves that is endemic to West and Central Africa. It is within the family Fabaceae. Seeds of the species are prepared and fermented to make Ugba, a soup condiment in Nigeria. As written, it could be used for making soup and food generally, you can be a producer, and you can be a marketer targeting restaurant or an advertiser that makes information available to ignorant consumers about the bean.
Native Dye
Dyes are really important for cloth, especially for clothing materials that sheds off their color when washed. Native plants and their resultant dyes have been used to enhance people’s lives through decoration of animal skins, fabrics, crafts, hair, and even their bodies. Natural dye materials that produce durable, strong colors and do not require the addition of other substances to obtain the desired outcome are called substantive or direct dyes. Production, advertisers, media campaign manager, marketers are really needed.
Local Vegetables and Herbs (Bush pumpkin)
I have seen this on many decorations wall especially outside Nigeria decorations. They are family of pumpkin and they can also be eaten. Processors are highly needed when it comes to pumpkin extra foliation.

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