Domestication of Non Timber Forest Products

Wild stocks of a number of non timber forest products (NTFPs) of economic, cultural and medicinal importance in Cameroon are currently threatened due to unsustainable and over exploitation in response to national and international market demands, poverty, ignorance and agricultural expansion. Stocks closer to residential and farming areas are increasingly being depleted causing local people to cover longer distances into the forest to find them.

Eru Cultivated in an Agro Forestry Setting

CENDEP adopted the principle of ‘conservation through cultivation’ and enrichment planting for NTFP species which have potential for on-farm cultivation to ensure their existence and availability in the long term and to offset deficits that may arise in demand and supply from production in the wild.

One of the threatened NTFPs is Gnetum spp (Eru). It is a highly priced and harvested NTFP in the forest regions of Cameroon. Because of free access and high demand, there has been an influx of commercial exploiters from neighboring countries. This has resulted in the fast depletion of the wild stocks but no data is available to substantiate this as no comprehensive inventory is available.

Over the last decade, the Limbe Botanic Garden (LBG) has researched and developed sustainable ways of cultivating eru for both income generation and biodiversity conservation purposes. The LBG has made the following outstanding advances in the domestication and conservation of eru:

  • the development of a cultivation model using eru vine cuttings;
  • the establishment of experimental/demonstration farms;
  • the organisation and training of farmers and extension workers on how to cultivate eru;
  • the production of an eru cultivation manual and
  • the establishment of a gene bank.

Since 2000 CENDEP has been involved in Eru chain development activities in the South West Region of Cameroon. This has been with the support of IUCN NL (2004-2005) with a start up grant to train farmers and forest users on domestication and sustainable management of wild stocks; ICCO (2006-2011) with support in production and marketing; New Englands Biolabs Foundation (2007-2008) supported extension of the eru domestication techniques to farmers in the Muyuka area, SW region Cameroon and in 2008 CENDEP collaborated with the RUMPI Area Participatory Project to train more farmers in the SW Region of Cameroon.

More extensive information about our projects on domestication of non timber forest products can be found on the next page.

CENDEP’s approach in the domestication of Eru has been presented by Both ENDS in the Encyclopaedia article published on their website: Differences in NTFP Management between Africa and Asia. In general CENDEP’s contribution to the conservation of this important resource and to poverty alleviation in local communities has been through the implementation of the following projects:
Bonadikombo Plant Nursery Construction Ex-Situ Cultivation of Non Timber Forest Products (Case of Gnetum spp)
Cultivation and Sustainable Management of Eru (Gnetum spp) in the Buffer Zone of Korup National Park Use of Eru (Gnetum africana) Cultivation as a Gateway into Sustainable Organic Farming in the Mount Cameroon Forest Region

Analogue Forestry
Sustainable Agriculture
Economic Development

Domestication and on-farm cultivation is appropriate when wild resources are being over exploited. This is the case with Gnetum spp (Eru). CENDEP has adopted the principle of conservation through cultivation to address the problem of unsustainable exploitation of this resource.

Putting in place systems to define who has access to wild NTFP resources in a given area and to monitor (measure and control) harvest levels is appropriate when wild resource use is still within sustainable levels.