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Subsistence and commercialisation: contributions of NTFPs to food security and nutrition


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Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) as foods have the potential to decrease micronutrient deficiency while providing the social and cultural benefits of traditional food systems. Commercialising NTFPs may also lead to increases in income, but will this necessarily mean an increase in the food security and nutrition of rural households? This presentation gives an overview of increasing evidence that commericalisation of NTFPs is not leading to the desired sustainable development and biodiversity conservation outcomes, and can have a negative impact on nutrition in poor rural households.
CIFOR post-doctoral fellow Bronwen Powell gave this presentation at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, held in Bonito, Brazil on 19 June 2012.

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Subsistence and commercialisation: contributions of NTFPs to food security and nutrition

  1. 1. Subsistence and commercialization:contributions of NTFPs to food security and nutrition Bronwen Powell PhD, Centre for Indigenous People Nutrition and Environment, McGill University, Montreal, Canada and Post-doctoral Fellow, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia
  2. 2. NTFPs for Subsistence... • Micronutrient intake (both plant and animal) • “Safety-net” • Dietary diversity • Socially and culturally important foods, central to traditional food systems and food sovereignty
  3. 3. Why worry about micronutrient deficiency?• Iron Deficiency: +3.5 billion ppl. in developing world, > 2/3 (UN-SCN 2000)• Vitamin A Deficiency: up to 140 million pre-school children (UN-SCN 2004)• 50% of Child Mortality directly or indirectly linked to malnutrition (UN-SCN 2004, Caulfield et al. 2004)• Iron deficiency may account for loss of up to 7.9% of GDP (in Bangladesh, Horton and Ross 2003)
  4. 4. NTFPs and Commercialization...• Possible increases in income (CIFOR PEN study found forests provide 20% or rural incomes) ... but also possibly ... • Decreased availability for local availability • Greater use of purchased foods (market integration) • Changes in distribution of benefits (rich/poor, men/women) (e.g. Ambrose-Oji 2003, Belcher et al. 2005, Powell et al. 2010)
  5. 5. Market Integration and Nutrition... • Income may or may not be used for improved diet, nutrition and health • Often accelerates / catalyzes a Nutrition Transition • Double Burden of Nutrition and Disease
  6. 6. Purchased foods and Nutrition....• Powell et al.: Tanzania, purchased food negatively correlated with micronutrient intake (and one of strongest predictors of nutrient intake)• Kuhnlein and CINE: North America, “traditional foods” → better nutrient intake, market (purchased) foods → poorer nutrient intake• Dounias et all. 2007/6: Cameroon and Borneo, Relocation/ market integration → major changes in diet, nutrition and health• Dewey 1981: Mexico, negative association purchased foods & children’s nutrition status
  7. 7. Nutrition Transition among the Caboclo of Pará, Brazil• Overweight and obesity: men = 47.8%, women = 50.8% (with 20.5% obese)• Obesity associated with low socio-economic status• Suggest as due to increased Western lifestyle influence, even in rural populations (Silva and Padez 2010)
  8. 8. Nutrition Transition among the Suruí of Brazil• In 2005 the majority of Suruí (20–50 years) were overweight (42.3%) or obese (18.2%)....• Associated with increased involvement in market economy, emergence of differences in SES, and changes in diet and physical activity patterns (Port Lourenço et al. 2008)
  9. 9. Why worry about a nutrition transition?• Overweight & obese: 1 billion ppl world wide, >underweight• Diabetes: 146 million ppl. in developing world (in 2000), 84% of the cases world wide in developing countries• In Brazil, the economic burden of diabetes estimated to be 3.8% of the GDP (in 2000) (Yach et al. 2006, Nature)
  10. 10. The role of Gender in Nutrition.....• Different use of income by men vs. women?• Womens decision-making, control over income, percent of income earned → positive impact on food intake and child nutrition status (Smith et al. 2003, Engle 1993, Hoddinott and Haddad 1991, Kennedy and Peters 1992)• Others have found otherwise or note complications (OLaughlin 2007) e.g. Ternent et al. 2010: Burkina Faso, men willing to pay more than women for maternal health
  11. 11. If commercialization leads to overharvesting....• Responses to over-harvesting include: • Species substitution, changes in resource tenure, and.... DOMESTICATION (under the right circumstances)• Domestication of NTFPs may: ↑ area cultivated and lead to shifts in agricultural systems similar to shifts seen with increased production of cash crops ... Often associated with loss of agricultural diversity
  12. 12. Lessons from Agricultural Commercialization....Dewey 1989: Case studies in Latin America and the Carribean.... “Illustrate that commoditization tends to have a negative impact on nutrition in poor rural households”• Alderman 1987: In India participation in milk coop associated with low milk intake• Dewey 1981: Tabasco Mexico, loss of crop diversity associated with lower dietary diversity and nutritional status of children (income levels were not found to be consistently related to nutritional status)
  13. 13. • Commercialization → lack of improved nutrition and/or decreased local use? • De Walt 1993: Review of 14 studies shows mixed results but often no improvement in nutrition status “mixed score card”• Cash Cropping / Agricultural change associated with better nutrition • Von Braun 2002: Gambia, Rice Technology → Increased income spent on food, with improvements childrens nutritional status • Lev 1981: Meru of Tanzania (coffee intercropped in banana agroforest system) • Shack et al. 1990: Papua New Guinea (those w cash crops also w home-gardens)
  14. 14. Agricultural Commercialization....• Often leads to loss of biodiversity within the agricultural system .... and possible loss of resilience• Agricultural diversity associated with: • Dietary diversity (Torheim et al. 2004, Ekesa et al. 2008, Herforth 2012, Powell 2012) • Micronutrient Intake /Adequacy (Torheim et al. 2004, Powell 2012, Jones et al. 2005) e.g.: In Nepal, diversity rather than the size of home gardens related to nutrition
  15. 15. Increasing evidence that Commercialization of NTFPs is not leading to desired outcomes.... • Biodiversity and Forest Conservation? • Reduced Poverty, Improved Livelihoods and Local Commitment to Conservation Objectives? • Food Security and Nutrition?
  16. 16. Improving Food Security and Nutrition through NTFPs?Commercialization for improved nutrition? • Not always about cash (e.g. Haddad et al. 2003, Ickowitz 2011) • Education / policy that accompanies income generation programs.....NTFPs as Foods have the potential to BOTH decrease micronutrient deficiency and mitigate the nutrition transition, while providing social and cultural benefits of traditional food systems
  17. 17. Thank you.... Terry Sunderland, Christine Baldauf and CIFOR for organizing the symposium....