An ode to the NTFP family-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
How much is my NTFP-Task Force family for me and my work? NTFP, to the uninitiated is the non-timber forest product.
We define NTFPs as “all biological materials, other than timber, which are extracted from forests for human use.” These include rattan and other materials for craft making, forest fruits, resins, gums, medicinal plants and honey.
Working with communities towards an optimal use and management of NTFP resources, not only supports basic livelihoods, but also can provide a strong incentive for involvement in forest conservation.
NTFPs are a subset of the green economy to address mountain poverty while protecting our watersheds and forests for a win-win equation. I was involved in an NTFP enterprise where bamboo craftspeople from Brgy. Mailum, Bago City engaged the services of the Technological University of the Philippines-Visayas in Talisay City to fast-track the production of bamboo pens to El Corte Inglés in Spain.
Bamboo producers from Bago and La Carlota mountain communities learned to dabble with the mainstream market. And as TUP, DOST and the civil society have shown, government has to be there to backstop NTFPs in finding new markets and develop production skills to meet the transition from subsistence to mountain-based market economies.
In the case of the NTFP-TF, it’s now almost 13 years since I joined the Quezón City-based civil society network. Because of the network, I got to engage in oft-beaten tracks of domestic tourism. Because of it, I got to visit the Higaonon tribes in their mountain strongholds in Bukidnon, visit the Mangyans in Mindoro, the Ikalahans redoubts in the Sierra Madre, and get to visit various cities largely in Luzon and Mindanao.
With NTFP-TF, I got to touch base with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature-Netherlands (IUCN-Nl) and the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation to fund projects at the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park and the Northern Negros Natural Park.
NTFP-TF linked me up with intellectual giants from academia who have had grassroots experience such as Canadian Mary Stockdale and UPLB College of Forestry dean Ramón Razal.
Although I’m Negros Occidental-based, I knew that when a project comes along that requires a Southeast Asian coverage, I know I can tap the geographical reach of NTFP-Exchange Programme, the mother network of the Task Force.
It was thus quite a snap that when the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) tapped for a Southeast Asia virtual dialog on sustainable mountain development via the internet, I was their man.
Of course, it’s a not a one-way street. I also contributed my share to the growth of the network. My organization provided staff trainers on bamboo craft manufacturing and rainforestation techniques in Mindoro and Quezón province.
I took part in national forest utilization policy debates at the Forest Management Bureau at DENR’s central office. Early on, it dawned on me that my policy issues at the CENRO, PENRO or even regional level make us much sense as berating sales clerks on price issues who don’t make the rules.
Because of its links to other partners, national policy-makers, funding sources, technical expertise, BIND’s work and knowledge creation on community forestry, tenurial concerns on mountain forests, NTFP development, I joined my colleagues for dialog with the Forest Management Bureau.
And the most basic of all when one falls sick in the family? The NTFP-TF fund-raised for me that covered over half of my hospitalization at the Intensive Care Unit of the Bacolod Adventist Medical Center and medical bills. They also organized a 3’o clock prayer to the Divine Mercy at Quezón City office.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 15, 2013.