The purpose of the course is to provide participants with the information and skills necessary for them to enter into, maintain or expand income-generating activities in the NTFP industry. Benefits to participants will, of course, vary depending on the role they play or hope to play in the NTFP industry.
All new entrants into the industry will benefit from the systematic approach provided in the course for developing a NTFP-based enterprise. Therefore, new entrants will be able to start their enterprise ‘on the right foot’, by-passing a number of the problems that can afflict small businesses that lack training in developing an effective business plan, basic bookkeeping, marketing techniques and other essential skills which contribute to small business success. Newcomers will also benefit from the overview provided of the NTFP industry, including: what the opportunities are in seasonal or year-round work, how to ensure high-quality products, what has worked for others in the industry and why, and what is needed for their enterprises to grow with the industry in the future.
All participants, experienced or not, are anticipated to benefit from the practical information provided on strategies for ensuring their businesses succeed in a highly dynamic industry. An important issue for industry participants is how they can add value to the work they are already doing. A key aspect of increasing the returns from NTFP’s will involve the development of effective marketing strategies, a significant element of success in the industry. The course will address marketing strategies, a significant element of success in the industry. The course will address marketing strategies in two dimensions: first, sound marketing of existing products, and second, market development strategies for both existing and new products. The ability to research opportunities for ‘new products – which may be completely ‘new’ or previously known products entering into new markets – can also contribute to the success of NTFP businesses. Participants will learn a systematic approach for gathering information on NTFP markets, to not only improve their decision-making capacity around marketing, but also to potentially improve the revenues they receive from these products.
The NTFP industry may provide another option for community economic development with the creation of a group of individuals trained and motivated to develop their own businesses or cooperate in a community venture. Although NTFP-based activities may not provide a source of year-round income, they can be an important seasonal activity that complements other income generating activities in rural communities. Even if participants in the course decide against pursuing work in the NTFP industry, the training they receive in the area of small business will provide valuable skills for other endeavors. Another less obvious benefit to communities is the creation of a group trained in the appropriate harvesting of NTFP’s. Educating harvesters on correct harvesting methods will help reduce the amount of product gathered but not marketable due to damage, poor handling or incorrect selection. Benefits to the ecosystem as a whole should result from the raising of awareness among participants of issues such as environmental degradation caused by harvester activities, potential impacts of harvesting activities on whildlife habitat, fire risks, and other possible negative effects of harvesting activities. Although many questions remain as to the most ‘sustainable’ harvesting methods and levels for many NTFP species, the course can provide information on the ‘best practices’ currently believed to ensure the maintenance of the resource.