Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) for Food and Livelihood Security: An Economic Study of Tribal Economy in Western Ghats of Karnataka, India

The present study attempts to assess the contribution of NTFPs to income and employment by ensuring food and livelihood security for the tribal economy in the Kodagu district located in Western Ghats of Karnataka, India. This study estimates the contribution to income and employment and the costs and returns of NTFPs collections. Furthermore a Tobit model is estimated determining the factors influencing share of NTFP in income. For carrying out this study, simple random sampling was used and data was collected from 91 tribal households. The result of the study indicates that most employment (55%) was generated by the wage sector followed by NTFPs collection (26%) and other sectors (19%). Also, wage earnings generated the highest average annual income per households (INR.14244) followed by NTFP (INR 5505) and other sectors accounting 10% to the total tribal income. Comparing income and employment from various sectors indicates that: (i) NTFPs collection is performed by all households irrespective of income contribution but (ii) income contribution from wage earning is highest. The higher contribution of wage income to the total income of tribals is due the employment absorption in the coffee sector during different seasons of the year. This fetches a higher wage rate (INR.120/day) compared to the opportunity cost of labour in NTFP (INR.80/day). However, the employment and income levels from coffee and NTFP are uncertain in nature. Thus, income levels from combination of NTFP and other activities generate sustainable income for food and livelihood security. Results of the Tobit model indicate a positive significant relationship between total hours of collection (b= 0.901) with income share of the NTFPs. A negative relationship with income variables such as farm income (b= -0.001) and wage income (b= -0.003) was found to be statistically significant at the 99 % confidence level. While services and allied activities (b= -0.001) were negative significant at 95 % confidence level. These variables influence the share of NTFPs in income. The main problems faced by the tribals include government restrictions regarding NTFP collection, limited employment possibilities, inappropriate benefit distribution and misuse of funds and finally a lack of processing activity at the local level. In order to overcome these problems, an efficient distribution of existing benefits through proper institutional mechanisms is needed. In addition, processing activities have to be encouraged through trainings and skill development. This can add in realizing sustainable income and employment throughout the year.

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Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the joint academic degree of International Master of Science in Rural Development from Ghent University (Belgium), Agrocampus Rennes (France), Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany) and University of Cordoba (Spain) in collaboration with Wageningen University (The Netherlands), Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia) and the University of Pisa (Italy).
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Master's Thesis

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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