In recent years, increasing global concerns for the well-being of the earth’s environmental resources and growing human population has led to the emergence of the concept of the green economy: how can human well-being and environmental resource management be simultaneously improved? The transition to green growth is relevant in many developing countries characterized by fast population growth, widespread poverty and inequality, and high rates of environmental degradation. However, transition is rendered difficult by lack of knowledge, e.g. how can green growth create more jobs for the poor while making sure that natural resources are not overexploited? This research project investigates the potential for transition to green growth in the commercial medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) sector in Nepal. The trade involves millions of people, from harvesters in remote villages to large
regional wholesalers and consumers in China and India. Raw and processed MAPs
constitute a largely informal export commodity of national economic importance to Nepal, and the potential for generating new benefits when transiting to green growth appears attractive, e.g. overharvesting of species is common and producers receive low prices as they remain uninformed of end user demands. The project will describe and quantify this south-south trade, including its governance and impact on the resource base. Outcomes will include specific measures to enhance resource use sustainability, augment pro-poor employment, increase business competitiveness, and improve institutional frameworks. The project will build human and social capacity at key Nepalese universities and is committed to the dissemination of results and participation in policy improvement processes throughout the project period.
First-year report 2016:
The aim is to understand the global production network for Nepalese medicinal and aromatic plants, from harvesting sites to end user consumption decisions. Data collection in the 15 district survey and the Tibet border district survey have been completed as have the central and regional wholesaler surveys. Clean quantitative and qualitative data is becoming available for analysis. The biophysical studies of selected species, undertaken in order to estimate sustainable harvest rates, are progressing. The first preliminary results have been presented at international conferences. The main challenge at the moment relates to design and implementation of consumer surveys for selected end products and producing knowledge of the political economy of the medicinal plant trade, and understanding livelihood issues in relation to domestication processes. This is progressing well and we are thus coming closer to our goal of providing an empirically-based foundation for understanding the global production networks for Nepalese medicinal and aromatic plant trade.