KAMPALA – Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has addressed opportunities for building nutrition-sensitive Non-Wood Forest Product (NWFP) value chains in Uganda.
The held at Hotel Africana, Kampala ran under the theme; ‘Enhancing Opportunities for Sustainable Exploitation and Use of Non-Wood Forest Products’
FAO has been working with the World Agroforestry (ICRAF) in Uganda to implement a project titled: “Opportunities for building nutrition-sensitive non-wood forest products (NWFPs) value chains in Uganda”.
The goal of the project was to assess and begin to improve key NWFP value chains for the long-term aim of enhancing food and nutrition security, household incomes and biodiversity conservation in the west-Nile sub-region.
The WestNile sub-region is home to many refugees from neighboring South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The large population negatively affects tree cover and other nutritional and economic values accruing from the forested areas. However, the potential of NWFP to address food and income security has not been explored; hence the need for this important study workshop.
NWFPs are goods of biological origin other than derived from forests and other wood.
According to Mr. Issa Katwesigye, Principal Forest Officer at Ministry of Water and Environment, Forest Sector Support Department, stated that NWFPs that would qualify for nutrition are; honey, Shea butter, gum Arabic, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, wild coffee, edible rats, grasshoppers, doodo, white ants.
“We believe the timing is perfect to emphasize NWFPs, to protect the landscape and improve nutrition in Uganda,” said Mr. Katwesigye.
Mr. Katwesigye said, “This project will contribute to the Uganda vision 2040 in Uganda household nutrition and income.”
Mr. Antonio Querido, FAO Uganda country representative, noted that FAO aims at identifying non-wood products and strives to improve nutrition and more so, increase household income in Uganda.
“FAO estimates that globally, NWFPs generated US$88 billion in 2011, 76 million tonnes of food from the first were consumed on average in 2011 and 1 billion people are thought to depend on wild foods,” he added noting that NWFPs have great potential in improving nutrition and increase sustained utilization of NWFPs in Uganda and more so, raise awareness among society members and the locals about the importance of NWFPs.
Dr. Clement Okia of World Agroforestry, while addressing the workshop, also noted that Ugandans should tap more potential from trees since we need to also commercialise most of the products such as honey which is a Non-Wood Forest Product.
“For many communities in Uganda, NWFPs other than timber, are very valuable for food, nutrition, medicine and other uses making these products critical in contribution to resilience in the food systems. Studies have shown evidence that forests play a more significant role in nutrition,” noted Okia.
Several participants discussed information and lessons learnt from the NWFPs projects and gaps were also identified for future research and development work on NWFPs in Uganda.
With these various remarks, FAO looks forward to promoting NWFPs so as to improve nutrient diversity and household income if utilization is sustainable and can meet present and future needs and more so, identify other important NWFPs for domestication efforts.