Depending on NTFPs: An Alternative Livelihood

There are millions of people depending on forest resources, that dependency is even higher in developing countries like Nepal. People depend on forest resources to meet subsistence needs and generate cash income for their living. Out of total household income, 28% of income is obtained from environmental resources (Angelsen et al., 2014). Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) have been identified as high-value commodities in Nepal with huge prospects for economic development. In Nepal, due to a lack of trade data, it's difficult to estimate the total amount of MAPs trade (Ghimire et al., 2016). Considering formal MAPs trade data India and China are major importers of Nepalese MAPs, it increasing mainly due to an increase in price while declining in trade volume. 700 plant species have medicinal value, 238 are in active use and only 150 are traded in Nepal (Acharya, 2014).

Zanthoxylum piperitum one of the NTFPs grown in mid-hills of Nepal have an important contribution to rural livelihood

Due to several reasons, many communities are not taking advantage of these resources.  Especially, in rural areas where the majority of the population are below the poverty line can benefit from the rich diversity of endemic plant species and a centuries-old tradition of using medicinal and aromatic plants (Gotor and Cherfas, 2012). People's participation in MAPs cultivation and collection not only increased yields through enhancing existing and diversified livelihood strategies but also can better cope with uncertainties and risks (Karki et al., 2003). that can, market opportunities and transferring of knowledge. Sustainability of this sector when exploitation exceeds due to planning and improper management may lead to a decrease in its quality and quantity in wild stock (Nahid et al., 2013). There is still lacking sufficient study conducted on the contribution of MAPs and its potential to improve rural livelihoods. Increasing global demand, rise in price, and contribution to the household and local income could lead the MAPs species towards overexploitation and may cause threats to their sustainability (Pyakurel et al., 2017). Moreover, studies suggest that MAP species traded in and from Nepal are wild-harvested (Ghimire et al., 2015), and premature and over-harvesting of habitat-specific perennial MAPs is one of the serious concerns for the sustainability of such species (Deb et al., 2015).  Special attention should be given to improving market efficiency and that helps in diversification of the local economy. If not, the abundant resources would be lost without proper utilization, and community depending on MAPs may not be justifiable. 


Acharya, C. (2014). Non-Timber Forest Product and its Trade in Nepal.

Angelsen A., Jagger P., Babigumira R., Belcher B., Hogarth N., Bauch S., Börner B., Smith-Hall C. and Wunder S. 2014. Environmental income and rural livelihoods: a global-comparative analysis. World Development, 64: S12–S28

Deb C.R., Jamir S.L. and Jamir N.S. 2015. Studies on vegetative and reproductive ecology of Paris polyphylla Smith: a vulnerable medicinal plant. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6: 2561–2568.

DPR, 2007. Medicinal Plants of Nepal (Revised edition). Bulletin of Department of Medicinal Plants 28. Department of Plant Resources, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal.

Ghimire S.K., Awasthi B., Rana S., Rana H. and Bhattarai R. 2015. Status of Exportable, Rare and Endangered Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs) of Nepal. Report submitted to Department of Plant Resources (DPR), Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC), Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ghimire, S. K., Awasthi, B., Rana, S., Rana, H. K., Bhattarai, R., & Pyakurel, D. (2016). Export of medicinal and aromatic plant materials from Nepal. Botanica Orientalis: Journal of Plant Science, 10, 24-32.

Gotor E., Cherfas J. 2012. Medicinal and aromatic plants improve livelihoods in Yemen. Bioversity International Series of Impact Assessment Briefs, no. 9. Bioversity International, 4 p.

Karki, M., Tiwari, B., Badoni, A., & Bhattarai, N. (2003, February). Creating livelihoods enhancing medicinal and aromatic plants-based biodiversity-rich production systems: preliminary lessons from South Asia. In Oral paper presented at the 3rd world congress on medicinal and aromatic plants for human welfare (WOCMAP III). Chiang Mai, Thailand (Vol. 10).

Nahid, S. A. A., Henriksson, P. J. G., & Wahab, M. A. (2013). Value-chain analysis of freshwater apple snail (Pila globosa) used for on-farm feeds in the freshwater prawn farming sector in Bangladesh. International Journal of Agricultural Research, Innovation and Technology, 3(2), 22-30.

Pyakurel, D., Sharma, I. B., & Ghimire, S. K. (2017). Trade and conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants in western Nepal. Botanica Orientalis: Journal of Plant Science, 11, 27-37.

Samarth, R. M., Samarth, M., & Matsumoto, Y. (2017). Medicinally important aromatic plants with radioprotective activity. Future science OA, 3(4), FSO247.