A SURVEY OF THE MARKET AVAILABILITY AND ITS POTENTIAL FOR NON-WOOD FOREST PRODUCTS, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO MEDICINAL PLANTS AND CANE
Forests provide numerous benefits other than timber and fuelwood and these arecalled non-wood forest products. They playa vital role especially in the ruraleconomy and provide benefits of considerable importance at the national level.Despite an escalating demand, these non wood forest products do not entermarkets directly due to the absence of proper marketing channels. Thisdiscourage primary collectors, do not warrant for sustainable collection of theproduce in the wild and the possible planting of the resources.
This study was conducted to assess the current market situation for non-woodforest products with special reference to medicinal plants and cane with a view tomake recommendations for the improvement of the marketing situation in thisregard.
Data were collected from plant collectors, small scale regional buyers andwholesale dealers by way of questionnaires and interviews. To collectinformation on medicinal plants 4 areas where medicinal plants are very muchabundant were selected, viz. Ritigala (Anuradhapura District), Rajawakaa·(Ratnapura District), Kanneliya (Galle District) and Bibile (Moneragala District).With regard to Cane, the most abundant areas; Manampitiya (PolonnaruwaDistrict) and BaduraJiya (Kalutara District) were selected. Further, data were alsocollected from wholesale dealers of medicinal plants at Gabo's Lane andayurvedic product manufacturers. With regard to cane, product manufacturers atRadawadunna were interviewed. Secondary data were collected from institutions.
The results revealed that both medicinal plants and cane are being collected in aunsustainable manner. As the existing marketing situation is disorganised, themiddle man is benefited most while the collectors do not reap much benefit fortheir labour. Majority of the crude medicinal plant materials are still importedwhile there is very low value addition to the material that is exported. Most of theraw cane too is imported. The cane available in the country do not fetch a gooddemand as it is considered as low quality. Most of the people engaged in thesebusinesses do not use the facilities offered by the banks very much possiblythrough unawareness.
The following recommendations emanated from the study to improve themarketing situation with regard to the above industries in the country;introduction of sustainable methods of collection, planting of the produce incountry as large medium scale plantations, improving the quality of products andvalue addition and making the people more aware for the facilities provided byfinancial organizations to improve the industries.