Application of Fair Trade certification for wild plants: lessons from a FairWild project in India
By Rie Makita
Based on a study of an experimental wild plant certification project implemented within a tribal community in India, this paper explores how wild plant collectors respond to two contradictory objectives of certification, namely, conserving a targeted plant species while promoting its sale. By providing economic incentives through certification, the project aimed to induce a shift from the collection of immature berries to mature berries from a targeted tree species. However, the majority of the collectors increased their harvests of mature berries while continuing to collect the same quantities of immature berries. This unanticipated project outcome can be attributed to the unique nature of wild plants as an uncertain income source that requires no investment. Evidently, collectors have developed their own concepts of ecological and economic sustainability derived from this unique income source endowed by nature, and have incorporated the new economic opportunity into their own natural resource management strategies.