Promoting sustainable use of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants for livelihood improvement and biodiversity conservation through Capacity Building training program in Himalaya mountain Swat District, Pakistan
Conference Paper (PDF Available) · October 2016
Conference: I International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions
Rural communities in Swat District, particularly those living in the mountain regions, use MAPs locally for medicinal purposes and for domestic food consumption. In addition, MAPs are traded in the urban markets to generate income. This paper reports on a project aimed at capacity building through awareness raising, trainings, exposure, and developing market linkages to promote the sustainable use of MAPs. The methodology of the survey focused on a series of consultation and coordination meetings with Forest Department. Additionally, Focus Group Discussion were held in each village with MAPs traders, collectors, and people of different age groups. This was followed by field surveys guided by community members. The study reported top twenty MAPs species having high market value and used in indigenous system of medicine by all ethnic groups. These species were traded through formal and informal trade network including cross‐border smuggling between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The project covered a range of interventions for its sustainable use and livelihood improvement such as local awareness campaigns, capacity‐building training, and community mobilization for conservation of threatened species, formation of MAPs Producer Associations who are directly linked to big buyers for maximizing their net income. Capacity building of the target population was the main intervention undertaken to achieve the overall objectives of the project. Therefore, community participation at all levels of the project was ensured to enhance their knowledge and skills on sustainable harvesting and marketing of MAPs, which represent the prime ‘engines of growth’ for the local economy. The project has achieved all planned targets, and although it is too early to measure the impact of these activities, it is expected that the project will serve as a strategic investment for income generation through sustainable harvesting and marketing of MAPs for rural communities in remote northern parts of Swat District.