1.1 Background of the Study
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. Depending on various cultural definitions, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have different classifications according to how and of what the forest is composed (Lund, 2006). Forests can be classified in different ways and to different degrees of specificity. One such way is in terms of the “biome” in which they exist, combined with leaf longevity of the dominant species (whether they are evergreen or deciduous). Another distinction is whether the forests are composed predominantly of broadleaf trees, coniferous (needle-leaved) trees, or mixed.
The contribution of forests to sustainable livelihood of the rural farmers around the world is immeasurable including the wood and non-wood forest resources. Forests which include all resources that can produce forest products namely woodland, scrubland, bush fallow and farm bush and trees on farms, as well as ecosystem dominated by trees (Arnold,1998), provide households with income, ensure food security, reduce their vulnerability to shocks and adversities and increase their well being. Research on non-farm rural employment and income as a whole has shown that small scale production and trading activities in forest products constitute one of the largest parts of rural non-farm enterprise employment (Liedholm & Mead 1993). It is in acknowledgement of the importance of forests for livelihood and environmental stability that its conservation is included in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. In Nigeria, poverty has led to the dependence of over 90% of the rural population on forests for some livelihoods and economic survival (UN, 2002).
Among the products obtained from forests are those classified as wood forest products and non-wood forests products (NWFPs). Non-wood forests products consist of goods of biological origin other than wood, derived from forests, other wooden land and trees outside forests (FAO, 1999). The United Kingdom’s Forestry Commission defines non-wood forest product (NTFPs) as “any biological resource found in woodlands except wood (timber and other forms of wood), United Kingdom Forest Research (UFR, 2013). Part of the reforesting Scotland project, defines them as “materials supplied by woodlands – except the conventional harvest of wood, Scotland Forest Harvest (SFH, 2013). These definitions include wild and managed game, fish and insects, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, 2013). When wood other than timber is included it is referred to as non- timber forests products (NTFPs). Generally NWFPs are grouped into: sponges, chewing sticks, tooth cleaners, fibers, bast fibers, jute, cloth, foodstuffs, water, beverage, wine, medicinal plants, latex, rubbers, gums and resins, and decorative beads (Wyatt, 1991). Furthermore, a large portion of NWFPs have medicinal properties. For at least three quarters of the world’s population, traditional medicine is the only source of medicinal treatment (70-80% in Africa) (Van Rijsoort & De pater, 2000). On the use of NWFPs in meals, observation of household in Western Burkina Faso identified that some thirty NWFPs were used, raw or cooked, and that they came from17 tree species of the savanna or traditional forestry parklands (Lamien & Bayala, 1996). This study will focus on flora(plant) and fauna(animal) species of non-wood forest products. Some of the plant species of NWFPs found in Nigeria, according to Osemeobo and Ujor(1999) include Gnetum africanum , Gongronema latifolium, pterocarpus soyauxii, Ocimum gratisimum, Treculia Africana, Irvingia gabonensis, Dennettia tripetala, chrysophyllum albidium (white straw apple), piper guineense, Afromomum spp and Garcinia kola. Fauna species include snails, bee product (honey), grass cutter etc.
Non-wood forest products have attracted considerable global interest in recent years because of increasing recognition of their contribution to household economies and food security to some national economies and to environmental objectives such as the conservation of biological diversity. Some 80 percent of the population of the developing world use NWFPs to satisfy health and nutritional needs (UN, 2002). Indigenous population in Nigeria have benefited historically from natural ecosystems through the use of NWFPs. Although NWFPs typically lack statistics on official commerce, they provide a wide range of raw materials and inputs for a diverse array of rural enterprise. Non-wood forest products provide off-farm employment to a large segment of the rural population and account for an enormous share of household income. For example, in 1996 in southeastern Nigeria, 35.7% of the rural population collected NWFPs daily and it accounted for 94% of total income from minor sources (Nweze & Igbokwe, 2000).
Bisong and Ajake (2001) found out that women in southern Nigeria depend heavily on NWFPs. In fact, many Nigerians depend on NWFPs for food, fiber and herbal medicines. In recent times, there has been a reasonable and noticeable shift from the earlier bias in favor of orthodox medicine to greater acceptance of traditional(herbal) medicines in Nigeria as in many other countries worldwide(Akunyili,2003). Over 90% of Nigerians in rural areas and over 40% in urban areas depend partly or wholly on traditional medicine(Osemeobo & Ujor,1999). NWFPs also provide raw materials for large-scale industrial processing including processing of internationally traded commodities such as foods and beverages, confectionery, flavorings, perfumes, medicines, paints and polishes. At present at least 150 NWFPs are significant in terms of international trade; they include honey, gum arabic, rattan and bamboo, cork, forest nuts and mushrooms, essential oils, plant and animal parts for pharmaceutical products. Thus promotion of NWFPs can complement the objectives of rural development and appropriate forest management (Hammet, 1993). Since the early 1990s, the role of Non-Wood Forest Products for sustainable forest management and poverty reduction has received increased attention (Sheil & Wunder, 2002). They play an important part in supporting household livelihoods and therefore can be used to raise the perceived value of forest resources. In developing countries, including Nigeria, majority of rural household and a large proportion of urban household depend on NWFPs to meet some parts of their nutritional, health, construction material and income from selling these products. Elsewhere, NWFPs are the only source of income for the local communities (Wollenberg & Septianinawir 1998). Therefore, NWFPs form an integral part of the rural economy where the majority of the rural populations live especially around the forest resource base. In this perspective, sustainable forest management will be achieved through encouraging participatory management of forest and woodland resources.
FAO, (2002) defined food security as a situation that exist when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Conceptually, food security is broken down into four different components – availability, access, utilization and vulnerability – each capturing different, but overlapping dimension of the phenomenon (Migotto, Davis, Carletto, & Beegle, 2007). To date, a lot of people in the developing world are still suffering from malnutrition despite the efforts made and inclusion of food security as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Worldwide, approximately 840 million people are undernourished or chronically food insecure and as many as 2.8 million children and 300,000 women die needlessly every year because of malnutrition in developing countries (Guha-Khasnobis, Acharya, &, Davis, 2007).
The Thrust of this research is to evaluate the contributions of Non-Wood Forest Products (NWFPs) to farm household income and food security in Enugu state. This is with a view to gain better insight into farm household’s income and food security and an attempt to strengthen the link between development policies and food security.