Technical report

Hidden economies, future options: trade in non-timber forest products in eastern Indonesia

Date released
03 July 2011
Publication Code

A.B. Cunningham, W. Ingram, W. Daos Kadati, J. Howe, S. Sujatmoko, R. Refli, J.V. Liem, A. Tari, T. Maruk, N. Robianto, A. Sinlae, Y. Ndun, I. Made Maduarta, D. Sulistyohardi and E. Koeslutat


This report analyses a broad range of non-forest timber products to identify those that could be developed into a wider industry to improve the incomes and livelihoods of farmers and agribusiness in the East Nusa Tenggara province of eastern Indonesia.

The report uncovers the ‘hidden economy’ of informal-sector producers and traders. Unrecognised in official statistics, the informal sector is a significant source of income to millions of rural households. Although, it does not address mainstream commercial crop species like coffee, citrus, mangoes or mangosteens—a common focus of rural development— it examines a much wider diversity of plant products. Many of these plants—and particularly the deep-rooted local tree species—thrive in places where ‘standard’ crops would not survive due to the effects of droughts, long dry seasons, fire or browsing by livestock.

This study not only provides insight into the diversity of plant products in trade, but also the fortitude, resilience and local knowledge of the people who process or sell them.