Cash from the Commons: Improving Natural Products Value Chains for Poverty Alleviation

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"Agricultural production in the southern African regions marginal areas where the majority of rural populations reside is highly unreliable, often due to poor soils, erratic rainfall and frequent droughts. Alternative livelihood sources are therefore needed to address the declining livelihood opportunities and increasing food insecurity. The natural products sector development being promoted by PhytoTrade Africa seeks to facilitate the generation of supplementary incomes for rural communities through the sustainable exploitation of wild harvested natural products. These natural products are harvested mainly from common pool resource areas. This paper draws on experiences from eight southern African countries to demonstrate that natural products trade can be an alternative source of livelihood to agriculture for poor rural communities, especially women who are often marginalised. Improvement in the livelihoods of these communities can be achieved through the development of efficient and reliable value chain and Fair Trade and organic systems within the natural products sector. The experience from southern Africa shows that the rural people living in marginal areas, and in particular women, are realising increased incomes from natural products that are used to meet household food requirements, pay childrens school fees, and make family investments such as purchasing livestock and household utensils."
livelihoods, trade, gender, poverty alleviation, common pool resources, natural resources, food supply, IASC