Potentials of non wood forest products in household food security in Tanzania: the role of gender based local knowledge

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This study was undertaken to synthesize existing information on the role of gender-based local knowledge in utilization of wild foods and other non-wood forest products for household food security in Tanzania. The study aimed at generating useful knowledge for advocacy, policy making and training. The specific objectives of this study were firstly, to assess issues of accessibility and dependency on wild foods and other non-wood forest products for household food security in the country, secondly, to examine the difference between women’s and men’s local knowledge with regard to collection, processing and utilization of wild foods and other non-wood forest products, and thirdly, to identify potentials and problems/threats with regard to availability of non-wood forest products for household food security. Literature from different authorities was critically synthesized to achieve the study objectives. The available information shows that there exists a wide range of wild foods and non-wood forest products, which are important for household food security. Non-wood forest products contribute through direct consumption of harvested wild foods and indirectly through income generation. The study revealed that there exists ascribed local knowledge between men and women on selection, preparation, utilization, storage and even consumption of wild foods. Furthermore, the study has revealed that non-wood forest products are of vital importance as tools for coping with food shortage and famines. The nutritive value of most wild foods is good and sometimes better than domesticated expensive foods. Despite of all the positive attributes of non-wood forest products, sustainable use of these resources is faced with problems of deforestation, lack of proper forest management regimes and non-homogeneity of non-wood forest products users. However, there exist some opportunities to improve the use of non-wood forest products for sustainable household food security; such as the diversification of forest management systems to incorporate locally valuable non-wood forest products, encouraging fruit trees growing in farms, providing market support and supporting small scale forest based enterprises. From this study it can be concluded that gender based local knowledge is a central issue in the selection, collection and preparation of wild foods. While women are very much knowledgeable about direct food consumption activities, men are more knowledgeable and responsible with income generating non-wood forest products. Furthermore, it can be concluded that the nutritive value of wild foods is substantial and can be used as substitute to the expensive domesticated food items. It is further concluded that increasing pressure of modernization is a problem facing expansion of non-wood forest products for household food security. From the findings of this study, it is recommended that the government, non- governmental organizations and individuals should target women when committing themselves to household food security. It is further recommended that there should be policy interventions to sensitize people on the use of wild foods as substitutes for the domestic ones. Nutritive values for different wild food items be assessed and used to improve food and nutrition security. It is also recommended that detailed study be conducted on local knowledge before it is lost through mordenisation. Last but not least quantification of the contribution of non- wood forest products in food security equation should be done.



Non wood forest products, Forest products, Household food security, Food security, Gender based local knowledge, Local knowledge, Gender, Tanzania