Non-timber Forest Products and Small Town Economies
Drivers of growth in developing countries seem to be large urban centres and a supporting rural, agricultural, foundation. What this schema ignores is the substantial contribution to development made by a large number of smaller urban centres, which do not qualify as cities but are not truly rural. These small towns have high growth, employment and economic stability thanks to innovative local technologies, small scale value added product development, and a local skill base. Some of these small and very small towns have risen because of a resource base provided by their proximity to forests and access to this ecosystem which consists not only of timber, but also non-timber forest products (NTFP). The picture sketched by this quick exploration of the tendu leaf harvesting and trade in a small town in Rajasthan shows the connections with local businesses and industry, both service and manufacturing. There is a large class of people who gain food and livelihood security from a combination of NTFP harvesting, processing and other activities. This connects them to the larger international world: expert packers come to the town to package leaves, which are then transported by train and truck to other states where they will be converted into export quality goods.
KeywordsSmall Town Forest Department Industrial Estate Livelihood Security Hill Station
With grateful acknowledgment of the preliminary field work that was done by Dr Sarmishta Chaudhary.
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