RE­DIS­COV­ER­ING OUR MI­NOR FOR­EST PROD­UCTS

Agriculture - - Neglected Resources - BY JULIO P. YAP, JR.

WHEN WE TALK about forests, it is most cer­tain that tim­ber and wood prod­ucts would come into our minds.

Maybe, some of us would not even con­sider that over-ex­ploita­tion and con­ver­sion of our forests to other pur­poses have al­ready re­sulted in the rapid de­ple­tion of the coun­try’s for­est re­sources, in­clud­ing non-tim­ber for­est prod­ucts (NTFPs) like rat­tan, bam­boo, bark, nipa, flow­er­ing plants, ferns, or­chids, vines and many other for­est growth.

Un­for­tu­nately, NTFPs are of­ten classified and re­ferred to as “mi­nor for­est prod­ucts” which are most likely ne­glected or for­got­ten.

Among the non-tim­ber for­est prod­ucts that is get­ting lesser and lesser at­ten­tion are the dif­fer­ent kinds of for­est vines.

But for­est vines are among the best sources of raw ma­te­ri­als for the pro­duc­tion of hand­i­craft and other hand-made novelty items.

These lowly vines are also im­por­tant sources of ma­te­ri­als for the con­struc­tion of low-cost hous­ing, prepa­ra­tion of food and bev­er­age prod­ucts, cloth­ing ma­te­ri­als, medicine, and other goods, par­tic­u­larly in the ru­ral ar­eas.

The gath­er­ing and uti­liza­tion of for­est vines can also pro­vide an ad­di­tional in­come for the mar­ginal farm­ers and those liv­ing in the up­land ar­eas.

With its long yet flex­i­ble stems, for­est vines are very suit­able for the pro­duc­tion of hand­i­crafts and other hand-made items.

These her­ba­ceous or woody plants have roots an­chored to the ground and the rest of its body can climb with­out sup­port on the branches of trees.

For­est vines usu­ally cling to trees and other plants for me­chan­i­cal sup­port and po­si­tion them­selves to cap­ture light.

For­est vines are con­sid­er­ably abun­dant in the forests, mak­ing our coun­try the sec­ond largest world pro­ducer of hand­i­crafts.

How­ever, the lo­cal hand­i­craft in­dus­try is now faced with prob­lems on ex­port due to the in­suf­fi­cient sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als, and stiff com­pe­ti­tion from other hand­i­craft-pro­duc­ing coun­tries like China, Viet­nam, Malaysia, and Thai­land.

Be­cause of these fac­tors, our hand­i­craft in­dus­try is be­set with

prob­lems and chal­lenges.

Among them is the lack of mar­ket in­for­ma­tion, in­ef­fi­cient ex­trac­tion and pro­cess­ing tech­nol­ogy, lack of sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als, and lack of cap­i­tal to fi­nance the de­vel­op­ment of NTFP plan­ta­tions.

To un­der­score the im­por­tance of our coun­try’s for­est vines, the Philip­pine Coun­cil for Agri­cul­ture, Aquatic and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Re­search and De­vel­op­ment of the Depart­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy (DOST-PCAARRD) funded a pro­gram for its de­vel­op­ment.

The pro­gram ti­tled “Philip­pine For­est Vines for Hand­i­craft and Fur­ni­ture In­dus­try” is be­ing im­ple­mented by the DOST-For­est Prod­ucts Re­search and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (DOST-FPRDI).

The PCAARRD-funded for­est vines pro­gram in­cludes: Bi­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies of Eco­nom­i­cally Im­por­tant For­est Vines in the Prov­inces of Ca­marines Sur and Al­bay; Treata­bil­ity and Per­for­mance of Com­mer­cial For­est Woody Vines Us­ing Chem­i­cal and Or­ganic Preser­va­tives; Eval­u­a­tion of the Phys­i­cal and Me­chan­i­cal Prop­er­ties of Eco­nom­i­cally Im­por­tant For­est Woody Vines; and, Value Chain As­sess­ment of Com­mer­cially Im­por­tant For­est Vines.

These projects aim to uti­lize non-com­mer­cial species of for­est vines, pro­mote sus­tain­able man­age­ment, de­velop nurs­eries and demo farms, im­prove har­vest­ing tech­nolo­gies, and pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions to the hand­i­crafts and fur­ni­ture in­dus­tries for im­prove­ment in the sup­ply chain.

Ex­ten­sive re­source sur­vey and in­ven­tory will also be con­ducted to have an ac­tual data of for­est vines in the wild.

The sup­ply chain of com­mer­cially im­por­tant for­est vines will also be mapped out.

Phys­i­cal and me­chan­i­cal prop­er­ties of eco­nom­i­cally im­por­tant for­est woody vines and ap­pro­pri­ate preser­va­tion and treat­ment of these vines and their prod­ucts will be stud­ied. With the help of the tech­nolo­gies that will be de­vel­oped, the fur­ni­ture and hand­i­craft in­dus­tries are ex­pected to be ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive in pro­duc­ing raw ma­te­ri­als and mar­ket­ing their prod­ucts made out of for­est woody vines.

Non-tim­ber for­est prod­ucts have long pro­vided peo­ple liv­ing in or near for­est ar­eas, es­pe­cially sub­sis­tence up­land farm­ers and the un­em­ployed or un­der­em­ployed in the low­lands, with sources of in­come.

By uti­liz­ing for­est vines for the man­u­fac­ture of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, farm­ers and those liv­ing in the re­mote up­land ar­eas could gen­er­ate ad­di­tional in­come, and help in­crease our coun­try’s ex­ports on hand­i­craft items.

Although for­est vines are mainly used for pro­duc­ing hand­i­crafts and fur­ni­ture, other novel and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts may be re­vealed and de­vel­oped.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy (S&T) in­ter­ven­tions can pro­vide bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties to the var­i­ous play­ers in the in­dus­try.

DOST-PCAARRD vows to con­tin­u­ously work on ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges faced by the hand­i­craft in­dus­try to meet the ris­ing de­mand for for­est vines prod­ucts.

With the projects un­der the “Philip­pine For­est Vines for Hand­i­craft and Fur­ni­ture In­dus­try” pro­gram, our forests will be able to pro­vide an ad­e­quate sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als to the en­dusers and the hand­i­craft in­dus­try, at the same time, con­serv­ing the re­sources.

Pro­mot­ing eq­ui­table ac­cess to op­por­tu­ni­ties in the uti­liza­tion of the re­sources and pro­mot­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try­side can also be achieved.

It is ex­pected that the re­sults of these S&T in­ter­ven­tions can put the for­est vines in­dus­try in the fore­front, pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture re­searchers to study for­est vines, and un­der­score their eco­nomic im­por­tance.

To un­der­score the im­por­tance of the coun­try’s for­est vines, DOSTPCAARRD funded a pro­gram for its de­vel­op­ment.

Non-tim­ber for­est prod­ucts are among the best sources of raw ma­te­ri­als for the pro­duc­tion of hand­i­craft and other hand­made novelty items such as these in photo.

For­est vines are con­sid­er­ably abun­dant in the forests, mak­ing our coun­try the sec­ond largest world pro­ducer of hand­i­crafts and novelty items.

The lo­cal hand­i­craft in­dus­try is now faced with prob­lems on ex­port due to the in­suf­fi­cient sup­ply of raw ma­te­ri­als, and stiff com­pe­ti­tion from other hand­i­craft­pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

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