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History of NTFP in Tripura

NTFPs generally accounted for more than 90% of the forest revenue of Tripura and around 30% of the State Revenue till the time of independence. Major NTFP has been bamboo (muli bamboo) mostly transported through river.

Systematic management of NTFPs began in 1958 when the first Working Plan for Tripura’s forest (covering the period 1957-58 to 1966-67) was brought into force, with one of the Working Circles (Overlapping) dealing with Minor Forest Produce especially Bamboo with a felling cycle of 3 years prescribed. The Working Plan Officer D C Choudhury observed that the population was dependent on forests for supply of firewood and bulk materials like bamboo, thatch grass and timber. Forests used to be worked under mahal (lease) system comprising of a few blocks. Leasing out of thatch grass, muli bamboo and umbrella sticks continued afterwards and lease of broom sticks was given to State Government Corporation. Subsequently, Divisional Working Plans were written which show that Bamboo/ MFP Overlapping Working Circles were prescribed in majority of the forest divisions.

NTFP Potential
All forest products other than timber, small wood and fuel-wood were termed initially as ‘minor forest products’ (MFP). MFP included ‘all animal, vegetable and mineral products other than wood found mainly in forest regions or collected there from’ according to the FRI publication ‘Indian Forest Utilization’ (Anon, 1972). With the growing appreciation of the economic importance of MFP, an alternative term ‘Economic Forest Produce other than Wood’ was devised by the Fourth World Forestry Congress held in Dehra Dun in 1954 (Anon, 1972). Awareness grew with time about the valuable contribution of the sector to food, shelter, healthcare, etc particularly for forest fringe communities since early 1970s along with recognition of the enormous economic value and potential of MFP.
De Beer and McDermott used the term ‘Non-Timber Forest Products’ (NTFPs) for the first time in their groundbreaking publication on the economic value of NTFPs in South East Asia (Beer and McDermott, 1989). They proposed the following definition for NTFPs: “The term ‘Non-Timber Forest Products’ (NTFPs) encompasses all biological materials other than timber, which are extracted from forests for human use.” The authors set out the key point of distinction between timber and non-timber forest products: “that timber is managed on an industrial scale for interests located outside the forest, while NTFPs are extracted using simple technologies by people living in or near forest.”
FAO uses the term, Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFP) which was re-defined in 1999 as: "Non-wood forest products consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooded land and trees outside forests." The key elements of the FAO definition are that it excludes all woody raw materials such as timber, chips, charcoal and fuel wood, as well as small woods used for tools, household equipment and carvings; that it excludes services, and that it includes products derived from both natural forests and plantations.
There are differences in definitions of the terms MFP, NTFPs and NWFP leading to some confusion, although these are often used as synonyms. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) stated in Section 2 (i) that ‘minor forest produce’ includes all non-timber forest produce of plant origin but includes animal products like cocoons, wax, etc.
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