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Producing and marketing forest products

A beekeeper tends to his hive. Photo: Lisa Murray A beekeeper tends to his hive. Photo: Lisa Murray

The Problem

The majority of residents in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region live in poverty. The average household earns just $90 a year.

Most families rely on agriculture to make ends meet, forcing them to chop down the area’s forests to make space for crops and livestock. In 2007, 60% of the region was forested, the area has since experienced significant deforestation.

An influx of displaced people from the nearby Sudanese border, unsustainable agriculture practices and land degradation have led to growing competition over dwindling natural resources.

What are we doing?

Farm Africa is working to help local communities build sustainable enterprises to profit from the forests’ resources, so that not only can farmers earn more, but they’ll also have an incentive to conserve the trees.

Despite being seen as the preserve of the poor, forest products, such as honey, gum and incense, are a potentially profitable source of income for farmers. Women, young people, refugees and displaced people are the main groups that harvest wild forest products.

Farm Africa works with forest management committees, which empower farmers to set up sustainable enterprises producing and selling products like honey and incense. We set up and support committees that help farmers link with better markets and access the finance they need for their businesses to develop. By developing enterprises that promote sustainable management of the forest, Farm Africa is helping farmers to increase their incomes and protect their environment.

This project is bringing forest users and government together to form agreements on how to use the area’s natural resources sustainably. Farm Africa will train government staff and forest management committee members in how to design, deliver and assess community-led forest management schemes.

Who are we working with

Farm Africa is implementing this project with The Assosa Environmental Protection Association.

This project is funded by The German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Between June 2016 and July 2019, this project was funded by Comic Relief. Comic Relief funded the establishment of 23 forest management cooperatives and 106 Village Saving and Loan Associations, reaching a total of 5,381.

The GIZ is strengthening the 23 participatory forest management cooperatives established earlier in this project. GIZ will also fund the setting up of new forest management cooperatives in six new areas in Benishangul-Gumuz. The project aims to directly work with 3,912 families.