Title Ecosystem Landscape Study: Economically viable NTFP Value Chains in
Karnataka and its bordering forest zones
Geography Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
Timeline 3 Months - Jun’23 to Aug’23
Last date for submission of Proposal 17th June,2023
Form to submit
email ID
website link

Overview :

Call for proposal : Research and Documentation
Preferred Geography : Karnataka and its bordering forest zones

Objective :

Detailed analysis of economically viable NTFP value chains emphasising the SDGs

  • Understand current scenario in Karnataka and Its bordering forest zones on production, productivity, and processing of economically viable priority NTFP value chains
  • Map stakeholders (Govt/CBOs/NGOs/MFIs/FIs), their ongoing interventions aligned with NTFP activities (especially processing and value addition) as priority areas.
  • Enlisting priority NTFP value chains and analyse utilisation pattern to estimate demand and potential impact of Decentralised Renewable Energy driven technologies across all nodal point
  • Map synergies with government and FI programmes / schemes for strengthening the sectors and livelihoods within the value chains in Karnataka and Its bordering forest zones

Expected Timeline :

3 months - Jun’23 to Aug’23

About SELCO Foundation

SELCO Foundation has been established with a mission of achieving rural development and conservation of the environment by promoting the use of decentralized renewable energy. The Foundation works on field-based R&D work and has developed various models, and processes, in sectors of basic energy access, health, education, livelihoods, financial inclusion, and built NTFP ecosystem landscape study environment which can be replicated and scaled up to bring in social inclusivity and equity in the nation.

Background :

Currently, SELCO Foundation is exploring Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s), and seeks to develop sustainable energy driven technology solutions to improve localized processing, diversify farm incomes, and reduce drudgery across the NTFPs value chain. We are specifically looking at technologies that bring value for small- marginal farmers, native entrepreneurs, FPOs, FPCs, SHG, and other stakeholders.

Technology interventions that lead to better utilization, processing and value addition of NTFPs and consequently expand opportunities to not only improve income of forest-dependent resource gatherers but also contribute to the national economy through expansion of value-added NTFPs; is the envisioned outcome of this study. This study is aimed at understanding the possibilities of increasing returns from NTFPs through transformative and sustainable technologies and innovations that yield economically viable products and empower those who adopt them.

Context for the project :

In India over 50 million people are dependent on NTFPs for their subsistence and cash income. This provides 50 % of household income for 20 to 30 % of the rural population particularly for the tribal community. Potentially around 3000 species of forest products are found to be useful, but only 126 have developed marketability. Around 50 % of forest revenues and 70 % of forest-based export income of the country comes from NTFPs. Thus, it can be depicted that NTFPs form one of the mainstays of income and sustenance for many tribal communities. NTFPs provide important products for local, national and international markets. These markets are growing rapidly and steadily.

Non timber resources have great potential for enhancing sustainable rural development, diversified economic growth, environmental health driven climate action and also promote entrepreneurship across vulnerable tribal communities. Few NTFPs have low cash values and hence are used for consumption, rather than for sales. Whereas, rest NTFPs have highly commercial value. Though NTFPs have great demand at the national market, its collection and processing is deeply impacted by existing monopolies, and dependence on middle men that follow misappropriate weighting of the products and retain higher margins through sales where the perishable NTFP's are either sold at local market or semi processed and sold to contractors for further processing and value addition. Few of the Wild fruits are processed by preservation and sold in the form of concentrated juices, candies and powders etc.

One of the difficulties for small-scale collectors who seek to commercialize NTFPs is that often the markets for these products are relatively complex compared to those for timber and traditional agricultural goods. Prices for NTFPs vary across different locations as well as over time. In addition, buyers also impose different quality control standards. Collectors are often poor or landless dwellers, who are unable to reap the benefits of economically viable NTFP value chain driven opportunities. Weak Infrastructure and Market Linkages: In many remote and rural areas, there is a lack of basic infrastructure such as transportation, storage facilities, and processing units. This results in inefficiencies, post-harvest losses, and reduced quality of NTFPs. Additionally, inadequate market linkages and limited access to fair and transparent markets restrict the economic potential of NTFP value chains.

Innovations in the NTFP sector do not consider the needs of vulnerable forest communities who have limited access to capital, need to diversify to be viable, and cannot take on increased energy burdens. With vulnerable communities lacking access to machinery, increased access to inefficient machinery would result in increased GHG emissions.

Optimised, energy efficient NTFP processing solutions (clean technology) are clearly absent from the market which meets the needs of vulnerable forest dwellers engaging in the collection of NTFPs. The current market surveys reveal that most of the technologies consume power in the range of 3 - 20 HP (or above)- To be economically viable the machines must cater to a sizable community of NTFP gatherers. It is also seen that high market incidental costs are being incurred by vulnerable tribal communities who are forced to take their produce and sell it to middle vendors for processing. High- energy costs incurred by modern/ traditional processing such as electrical charges are passed on to the users of the services. Tribal communities across forest fringes cannot invest in costly processing machinery - thus, resulting in the emergence of middlemen, and the transfer of the actual value from the NTFP gatherers.

  • Lack of Knowledge and Skills: Limited awareness, technical knowledge, and capacity-building initiatives among forest-dependent communities and stakeholders involved in NTFP value chains pose a significant challenge. This includes knowledge about sustainable harvesting practices, value addition, product diversification, and market trends, which are crucial for enhancing the value and competitiveness of NTFPs.
  • Inadequate Financial Support: Limited access to credit, financial services, and capital is a common challenge faced by NTFP collectors, processors, and small-scale entrepreneurs. The lack of financial support hampers investment in infrastructure, technology, and market development, thereby constraining the growth of NTFP value chains.
  • Limited Processing, Value Addition and Marketing: The majority of NTFPs are sold in raw or semi-processed forms, resulting in low value realization for collectors and limited market opportunities. Insufficient value addition, branding, packaging, and marketing strategies restrict the competitiveness of NTFP products in domestic and international markets.

All these factors contribute to complexity of NTFP value chains, leading to asymmetric access to technology, energy, skills and capacity for the last mile tribal communities of NTFP gatherers. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu across the western ghats, is known for its rich biodiversity and abundant Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). The state's forests are home to a wide range of NTFPs, including medicinal plants, aromatic herbs, spices, gums, resins, honey, bamboo, and rattan. These resources play a significant role in the livelihoods of local communities. However, these states face several challenges related to NTFP management and value chains This study would help us identify and understand

  • Gaps, challenges and opportunities across priority commodities in NTFP value chain, keeping the tribal communities as the centerpiece.
  • Typologies of NTFP collectors, gathers in the selected geographies,
  • How should various stakeholders (including the state government, Financial Institution , NGOs, entrepreneurs and individual champions) play a critical role in building a comprehensive ecosystem of NTFP value chains in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with specific focus on sustainable energy driven technology livelihoods.

Goal :

The ecosystem landscape study seeks to identify and prioritize economically viable NTFP commodities in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to understand the potential for technology innovation and DRE integration across all nodal points of selected value chains.

Scope of work for Ecosystem landscape study :

  • Conduct a Primary and secondary scoping of the NTFP value chains present in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, on the basis of which, prioritization value chains needs to be done for a deep dive understanding;
  • Undertake a desk review of relevant activities conducted by government or other development partners on the selected NTFP commodity
  • Undertake a desk review of public-private engagement platforms for market based value chain strategic planning;
  • Conduct value chain analysis for the selected NTFP commodities. The value chain assessments will entail: the agronomic production profiles (e.g., agricultural products, flow of funds and information, etc.); functional analysis of each value chain (profiling of industry structure, adoption of skills, technology and innovation); climate change implications; economic analysis of potential opportunities to add value along the chain; and policy and institutional conditions necessary to create suitable enabling environment for value chain development;
  • Conduct assessments of demand and market conditions for products within selected value chains including analysis of input and output markets, their structure and dynamics between Agriculture ecosystem mapping actors, procurement processes, related standards, existence of monopolies, identification of lead firms, etc.
  • Based on the above tasks, identify constraints and barriers (financial, technology, infrastructure, human resources/skills, marketing, regulatory, policy, institutional) that must be addressed to enable the development of the value chains;
  • Create a climate lens to this study to understand how selected commodities and the vulnerable tribal communities associated with NTFPs are impacted by heat stress and other climate pressures
  • consolidate the outcome of the above tasks and prepare a document of insights and learning, gaps and challenges, strategies and action plans for potential nodal points of DRE technology interventions.

Key Activities :

  • Conduct secondary desk research on the commodity to develop extensive literature review
  • Develop a selection criterion to identify hot spots for this study across selected geographies
  • Conduct primary research based on consultation site visits, case analysis, meeting key stakeholders
  • Develop baseline questionnaires/ templates of aspects to be covered (End user level, Value chain level etc.)
  • Choosing sample size (min. 20 in each value chain) and identifying sites for baseline assessment in partnership with local partners and key stakeholders
  • Data collection and analysis from baseline sites to arrive at demand estimates & potential SDG7 interventions.
  • Mapping local stakeholders that enable specific livelihood Institutional linkages and their ongoing work that is relevant to integrate decentralized renewable energy solutions
  • Collation of learnings, results from research, visits, baseline and ecosystem mapping for review and feedback.
  • Identify and mapping of both solar and agri technology providers based on technology gaps and challenges identified

Indicative methodology :

Combination of primary and secondary research, Surveys/ questionnaires, key informant interviews, consultation & analysis.

Expected focus areas for deliverables :

  • Research report on NTFP Value chain analysis : including
    • Literature review
    • Geography profile (Hot spots selected for study)
    • Value Chain mapping of selected NTFP commodities
    • Levels/ process/ practices and activities in each phase, Key challenges faced- climate related, energy related and non-energy (with a special emphasis on sustainable local practices)
    • Energy needs, technology infrastructure and potential solutions (Testing/ pilot/ replication/ scale)
    • Nodal points, Prominent schemes for that value chain within the district, Key ecosystem stakeholders for that value chain across:
      • End-user facilitation groups: Agri cooperatives, SHGs, Federation, Producer Groups, Village Organizations FPOs/ FPCs, NGOs,
      • Technology: Energy Entrepreneurs, Tech Enterprises,
      • Skill development institutions: KVKs, ITIs, Local NGOs, DATC
      • Government Departments and schemes (Credit linked schemes + other department schemes)
      • Financial Inclusion stakeholders (Bankers, SFAC, NABARD)
      • NGOs and CBOs: facilitating input-market linkages
  • Slide deck compilation of sample end-user profiles
    • Location, Climate risks, Livelihood,Socio-economic vulnerability
    • Typical end-user typologies (eg: individual farmer, SHG, Farmer group etc.) for each sub sectors/ priority value chains
    • Existing income levels, activities undertaken, Production, Business model and cash flow
    • Energy infrastructure: current and needs; Sources and usage, Energy expenditures
    • Individual ecosystem: access to Financing, Market linkages + inputs, Entrepreneurial ability,
  • Report/ Deck summarizing baseline scenario and demand estimation for SDG7 interventions for key nodal points within each priority value chain (building on above two)
  • Associated data sheets and interview summaries from Baseline
  • Participation and presentation of,
    • Initial study plans, literature review and feedback
    • Draft sector level baselines and ecosystem to be presented and reviewed
    • Final reports


Interested Consultants/Agency, who wish to apply for “Ecosystem Landscape Study: Economically viable NTFP Value Chains in Karnataka and its bordering forest zones” may apply with the Below link of Google form by uploading necessary documents mentioned in the Form and submitting the same.


Last date for submission of the proposal is on or before 17th June '23. Shortlisted proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Qualification, relevant experience and expertise of the firm - 50%
  • Demonstrated understanding of scope of work - 25%
  • Competitive costs for the services as per the ToR - 25%