Date released
08 May 2018

Forest products such as baskets and mats, nuts, oils and dyes can bring much-needed income to poor households. This paper analyses value adding and market development for some of these products in Indonesia.

Non-timber forest products represent a diverse and complex category of products, and they are often traded in the ‘hidden economy’. As a result they have received relatively little attention from development agencies, yet trade in these products can contribute significant income for poor households. This paper, produced by a research team from Murdoch University in Australia, and Threads of Life Indonesian Textile Arts Centre and the Bebali Foundation, both in Ubud, Bali, aims to unravel some of the complexities around these products and their trade in eastern Indonesia.

The research team carried out a wide-ranging survey of informal local markets, regional markets, and export markets. They found that most products in the markets were not from forests or agroforests, and of those that were, most were low-value products, sold as part of a survival or coping strategy. However they did find some forestry products that were very successful, or had good potential for value adding and market development, that could enhance household incomes.

They looked more closely at some of the successful or promising products in a series of case studies, drawing out lessons that may be useful for developing other products. For example, natural-dyed traditional textiles have a high-value niche market. One of the partners in the research, Threads of Life, was set up to support development of this market and now works with over 100 producers on 12 islands. Similarly, baskets made from the climbing fern Lygodium circinnatum have built a strong international market. Starting with just four basket designs, the town of Tenganan is now a global hub for fine basketry design and trade, with hundreds of designs. Other case studies are on virgin coconut oil, indigo and palm sugar.

Reference: A.B. Cunningham, W. Ingram, W. Kadati and I.M. Maduarta (2017) Opportunities, barriers and support needs: micro-enterprise and small enterprise development based on non-timber products in eastern Indonesia. Australian Forestry, Vol. 80, No. 3, pp. 161–177. DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2017.1329614

The open access publication of the above paper is part of wider initiative by ACIAR to disseminate the results of its projects as widely as possible. The move towards supporting open access is in line with ACIAR’s thinking on free and fair knowledge sharing in pursuit of more productive and sustainable agricultural systems.