Topic: Comparative analysis of global and local Non-timber forest products supply chains in Latvia and Brazil
Keywords: NTFPs, Supply chains, wild bilberry, açaí
Modern food supply chains have become extremely globalised and often there are very little local peculiarities remaining in them. These global supply arrangements are putting pressure on primary producers (farmers) reducing their bargaining power, forcing them to expand and to intensify their production models, to specialise and to become even more entangled with financial markets. The globalisation of markets can be observed in the trade of non-timber forest products as well. However, in their nature, primary producers operating in these chains are completely different from farmers – in case of Non-timber forest products (NTFP), there might be contested or communal land ownership rights, there might be limits to the use of mechanic equipment, it might be close to impossible or difficult to control the production and – it will take significantly more effort to connect production to the global food system. Despite this, there are cases of particular NTFPs being effectively incorporated in global food systems.
The paper questions the ways how NTFP are integrated into the global food systems, how the connection to global markets transforms the traditional wild product foraging and – how these connections as well as the transformation is affected by contextual processes. To do this, paper relays on four case studies – two sets of supply chains (local and global) from two very different contexts – Latvia (Northern Europe) and Brazilian Amazon. The paper explores the evidence representing two highly commercialised NTFPs – wild bilberry in Latvia and açaí in Brazil. The paper is based on secondary analysis of several studies conducted by the authors since year 2013.
The study concludes that the socio-economic context has a substantial effect on the way how NTFPs are integrated into global food systems. In the case of açaí supply chain in Brazil, the therapeutic/nutraceutical properties of the fruit, as well as the structural changes in the stages of flow (and even of the production system) allowed its insertion in global chains. Meanwhile, wild bilberries have been integrated in the global markets due to the nutritional properties of the product and the sudden economic shock experienced by rural communities. There are many overall similarities regarding the effects global food systems have on the foraging practice and local communities as well