A Move From Minor to Major: Competing Discourses of Non-Timber Forest Products in India

Author(s): Jeffery, Roger, Sundar, Nandini, Mishra, Abha, Peter, Neeraj, Tharakan, Pradeep


Since 1988 the role of so-called non-timber or minor forest products (NTFPs) has gained a renewed significance in discussions of forest policy in India. Joint forest management (JFM) agreements, which encourage the participation of forest-dependent people in programmes to restore forest cover on degraded lands, form the basis of the new strategy, with the enthusiastic support of donor agencies. The state has promoted access to NTFPs as a major short-term incentive offered by forest departments to encourage villagers to contribute to this process. JFM agreements re-attach responsibilities to forest-dependent peoples who are, in the eyes of the forest department, a major cause of deforestation. But NTFPs are also central to discussions of bio-diversity. Furthermore, the rising rates of legal and illegal extraction of timber has led to bans on all logging in some States, leaving NTFPs as one of the few potential sources of forest revenue. JFM is not the only element in state forest policy, however, and other patches of forest land are being offered to private industry to be used as captive plantations.

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