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Linkages between domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products: implications for agroforestry

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People throughout the tropics have depended on their indigenous plants for food security and a host of everyday products from medicines to fibres. The study of these uses is the domain of ethnobotany while their place in trade is that of economic botany. Trees in particular have been an important group of plants meeting the needs of hunter-gatherers subsistence and small-scale farmers. Too often scientists have over- looked the needs of people for these products and considered that 'access by farmers to modern inputs such as improved livestock crop varieties and hybrids fertilizers and pest control measures as well as credit technical assistance and improved farm management practices are essential components of a successful strategy to meet food production and development goals' (Pinstrup-Anderson 1993). With the ravages of deforestation the overlooked indigenous plant resources have come under severe pressure made worse by the growing numbers of people in tropical coun- tries many of whom depend upon these sources for fulfilling some of their basic needs. These pressures have led to the concept of domesticating many of these indigenous plants (Leakey & Newton 1994a Leakey & Jaenicke 1995 and the papers of this volume) and incorporating them in agroforestry systems (Sanchez 1995 Sanchez & Leakey in press) primarily for the ben.efit of small-scale resource-poor farmers. This represents a new paradigm for feeding the world. Instead of focusing on a limited number of highly domes- ticated crops often grown in monocultures this new paradigm is based on a much greater diversity of plants including many partially domesticated tree crops providing an array of products for consumption and trade. Is this a viable option?
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    Leakey, R.R.B.; Izac, A-M.N.


    Indigenous varieties, Marketing, Plant resources, Population pressure, Tree crops, Tropics, Domestication

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