The economic importance of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for livelihood maintenance of rural west African communities: A case study from northern Benin
Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) contribute significantly to a rural household's livelihood in the African semi-arid tropics. This study examines the income from NTFPs and the dependency on these of different socio-economic groups in Northern Benin. Using survey data from 230 households of two villages, we firstly compared incomes of five different ethnic groups being differentiated by their traditional source of livelihood and regional provenance. Secondly, we investigated disparities between three income groups. On average, income from NTFPs accounted for 39% of total household income and had a strong equalizing effect on it. However, the economic relevance of NTFPs differs between households: Poorer households are relatively more dependent on NTFPs in order to fulfill basic needs than wealthier households. However, the latter extract more NTFPs in quantitative terms and have significantly higher cash returns than poorer ones. This is mainly due to a significant greater land holding. Moreover, our study revealed that net income from NTFPs reflects traditional sources of livelihoods of different ethnic groups. In conclusion, both conservation and development strategies should take into consideration the socio-economic context of different beneficiaries of savanna woodland resources in order to apply appropriate measures to poverty reduction.
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