Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme

Fourth expert group discussion tackles wild foods and livelihoods

January 18, 2021

Drawing from the rich experiences of community partners from India and Indonesia on wild foods and their forest-based livelihood experiences, the SIANI Expert Group on Wild Foods, Biodiversity and Livelihood held an online discussion about community-based livelihoods and wild foods last September 22, 2020.

The discussion tackled questions such as: “How do we make markets work for indigenous food systems and biodiversity conservation?”, “What are examples of community-based initiatives and strategies that harness most benefit to communities or local producers?” and “What are lessons about upscaling to other markets that ensure the balance with food sovereignty, ecosystem integrity and cultural values?”

The webinar was moderated by Femy Pinto, Expert Group Lead and NTFP-EP Asia’s Executive Director. Guest speakers were invited to share their reflections on the importance of forest resources for food and livelihoods, as well as about their engagement with the markets. 

The panelists for the session included Expert Group member Mathew John, Managing Director of Last Forest enterprise and co-founder Director of Keystone Foundation; Dr. Shiny Rehel and Mahadesha Basavegowda from Keystone Foundation; Crissy Guerrero, NTFP-EP Asia’s Senior Advisor for Strategic Programmes; and community partners from North Kalimantan, namely Pak Lukas Atung and Pak Nico from Punan Adiu Village and Desi Christiani from Krayan Highlands.

In the discussions, emphasis was placed on the importance of nurturing the agency of communities in managing and governing their forests and resources and in keeping their traditions alive. 

“Forest and indigenous communities are the main keepers of the forest, and keepers of the knowledge of and from the forest. They are important actors to keep wild foods, the biodiversity and the livelihood of the community [alive so that] traditional food systems [remain] intact and are able to stay resilient,” said Pinto in her closing remarks.

She also called on support groups and institutions to ensure that future interventions with partner communities, such as capacity building and advocacy, are supportive and protective of communities.

“How we advocate and give them the encouragement to stay on and keep on in keeping their resources is really important,” Pinto added.

A recording of the session is available to watch here.

Read the transcript of the session here

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