Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

Voices From the Forest Issue No. 32

July 10, 2017

During the Islamic Holy Fasting month of Ramadhan, we have chosen a topic which may seem ill-timed to some, but not really as we explain away. We see Muslims fasting in prayer, giving up worldly matters and sustaining hunger as a sign of worship from sunrise to sunset during the fasting month.

The lack and absence of forest food or wild food within traditional, forest-based communities, is often a reality faced involuntarily all year round. During the wild foods regional meeting in January 2017 (page 12), there was a discussion about forest conversion to monoculture plantations. These conversions have led to the unavailability of nutritious and culturally significant food sources like the bamboo shoots in Indonesia and the pyap  (leafy vegetable) in Cambodia. Government regulations have also denied villagers from the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, India from the collection of tubers and greens.

The article Regrowing Wild Foods (page 16), shares with us the influences of fast food and lifestyles on the eating preferences and importance of forest foods in indigenous diets. Despite this, however, the Penan in Malaysia, the Raglai in Vietnam, and the Binjhal Kondhs in India are protecting, planting and processing forest foods to make them more available and edible.

The International Slow Food movement is also promoting local and healthy sustainable food through a fun event in the Nilgiris chapter (page 9) where excess market produce is made into a sumptuous “disco soup” instead of being thrown away and contributing to the 1.3 billion tons of food in garbage globally.

Tanya Conlu takes up our favorite topic of bees and honey (page 4) stressing the multiple benefits of wild honey though this good source of energy and antioxidants also faces challenges through fluctuation in weather patterns affecting production, among other constraints.

So hope you enjoy this gastronomic journey. For those populations depending on wild foods, challenges lie ahead, but networks, festivals and movements are motivating the young to bring wild foods back in our forests and back on our plates.


The 32nd issue of Voices from the Forest is a special one as it focuses solely on FOOD. There is a resounding need for a deeper appreciation and understanding of wild food and its innate links to forest management and the indigenous way of life. This special feature on indigenous food and health was a recommendation from the regional meeting held at the Keystone Campus in Tamil Nadu to strengthen the NTFP-EP network’s commitment to a holistic perspective on the issue of forest-based communities through wild foods.