Changing Consumption and Marketing pattern of Non-timber Forest Products in a Competitive World: case Study from an Urban Area of North-eastern Bangladesh


In the last decade non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and their associated goods have received much attention from researchers and development workers for their perceived socio-economic importance and potential, particularly in developing countries. It has been increasingly recognized that promoting the use, production and sustainable harvesting of such kinds of products could also contribute to forest conservation in the long run. However, since the development process has progressed in most regions, alternatives or substitutes of such products have become available on the markets, and it will be difficult for these nature-based products to exist without additional product values. A market survey was conducted in an urban fringe of north-eastern Bangladesh to investigate NTFP-based product diversity, and marketing patterns and challenges. Further information was collected from sellers and consumers to understand their views on probable future strategies to sustain the markets of these products. A total of 38 NTFP and NTFP-based secondary products were recorded from 25 NTFP shops, including 16 permanent, 7 temporary (or semi-permanent) and 2 mobile shops. The greatest demand was observed for bamboo and cane-based products, for which supply suffered due to the scarcity of raw materials. A decreasing trend in the consumption of NTFP-based articles for urban domestic use was also reported from the sellers. To cope with the competitive markets, sellers were found to place more emphasis on creative marketing, durability and appearance of their products. The study concluded that active government support is needed for the sustenance of this industry in a changing global perspective. This could be in the form of technical advancement in the production process, improvement of existing product supply chains and skill development of the workers which will not only secure the future of these products but also provide an essential means for the survival of this industry and for thousands of people living from it.

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  1. 1.

    Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are defined in this paper as products mainly of biological origin other than commercial timber which are derived from either natural or managed forests. Examples include bamboo, cane, grasses, and their finished products. The various environmental benefits or services of forests are not considered as NTFPs in this paper.

  2. 2.

    As of 2007–08, US$1 is equivalent to 69 Bangladeshi Taka (Tk.), approximately.

  3. 3.

    An upazilla is a sub-district, which is an administrative entity.


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I am indebted to Mr. M. R. Tito and Mr. M. A. S. A. Khan for accompanying me in the field several times. Thanks are also due to Ms. Elizabeth Thompson for her effort on improving the language of this manuscript, and to Dr. Steve Harrison for his valuable and instructive comments on this manuscript during the review process. Finally I acknowledge the patience and cooperation from all respondents during the survey period.

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Correspondence to Sharif Ahmed Mukul.



See Table 4

Table 4 The diversity of NTFPs/associated products in the local market of the study area

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Mukul, S.A. Changing Consumption and Marketing pattern of Non-timber Forest Products in a Competitive World: case Study from an Urban Area of North-eastern Bangladesh. Small-scale Forestry 10, 273–286 (2011).

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  • Market promotion
  • Consumers’ preference
  • Competition
  • Substitute goods
  • Sylhet