Potential of NTFP Based Bioeconomy in Livelihood Security and Income Inequality Mitigation in Kashmir Himalayas
The contribution of non timber forest products (NTFPs) has been acknowledged globally for their role in conservation, income generation, livelihood improvement and rural development. The potential of a NTFP-based bioeconomy has given a new dimension to the forest sector, and NTFPs are now considered favourably by the resource rich developing economies. The actual contribution of NTFPs has never been adequately estimated due to lack of sufficient baseline information on extraction, consumption patterns and traded quantities in Kashmir, India. Complicated management frameworks and fragmented value chains have eclipsed their diverse social life cycle in Kashmir. Therefore the present study investigates the bioeconomic transformation, livelihood contribution, income inequality mitigation and determinant socioeconomic factors of NTFP extraction in the Kashmir Himalayas. A multistage random sampling technique was employed to collect data through participatory household-based surveys from different villages. Data were collected through structured in-depth interviews, non-participant observation and focussed group discussions. Descriptive and analytical statistics were used for data analysis. The Lorenz curve and Gini index were used to evaluate the influence of household NTFP incomes on income inequality mitigation, and econometric models were developed to identify key factors that influence the level of household income from NTFPs to determine their potential for supporting livelihood security and bioeconomy in the region.