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Case Study Details

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Knowledge Exchange about Non-Timber Forest Products Between Bhutan, Costa Rica and Benin

Executive Summary
The overall goal of the project, as envisaged by the National Mushroom Center (NMC) in Bhutan, the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) in Costa Rica and the Département Aménagement et Gestion de l’Environnement de la Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Bénin (DAGE/FSA/UAC) was for the three organizations to work in close collaboration to enhance their respective institutional capacity and develop new marketable, sustainable products while preserving biodiversity.

Given the expertise of Bhutanese technicians and communities in the cultivation of mushrooms, the expertise of Beninese technicians and communities in the collection and cultivation of insects and the Costa Rican expertise in systematizing traditional ecological knowledge, the three partner institutions saw the opportunity for knowledge exchange and dissemination as relates to the cultivation and/or collection of non-timer forest products.

The Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) project took place over a period of approximately two and a half year and allowed for the development of mushroom cultivation infrastructure and insect labs, the exchange of both traditional and scientific knowledge, the development of biodiversity information systems, the training of 154 technicians in mushroom cultivation, 22 technicians in parataxonomy and entomology and 52 technicians in edible insect production and collection and the start-up of mushroom cultivation facilities in four communities in Costa Rica, which generate local sales of $1.600 per month.

Actors Involved
1. National Mushroom Center (NMC) in Bhutan

2. National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) in Costa Rica

3. Département Aménagement et Gestion de l’Environnement de la Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques de l’Université d’Abomey Calavi in Bénin (DAGE/FSA/UAC)

4. Partners for South-South Cooperation (PSSC)

5. Local communities in Costa Rica, Bhutan and Benin

6. Benin: Non-governmental organizations (CECODI, MIALIBOUN and TETOOMA).

7. Bhutan: Extension agents in the districts, mushroom growers and wild mushroom collectors.

8. Costa Rica: Mushroom growers (Coopehongos, Asociación de Productores Agricolas, Pecuarios y de Ecoturismo de Siberia), fungi collectors and butterfly farmers.

Agriculture & Food Security,  

SSC Components
1. The main SSC component in the NTFP was the exchange of knowledge, from each of the three partner organizations to the other two. Indeed, each partner in this project possessed an expertise, whether traditional or scientific, which could potentially be useful to the partner institutions of and the communities in the other two countries. Specifically, local communities and technicians in Bhutan and Benin had traditional knowledge about, respectively, mushroom and insect cultivation and collection, whereas INBio in Costa Rica had expertise in the systematization of this type of traditional knowledge.
2. The exchange of traditional knowledge allowed, in turn, for the startup of mushroom cultivation facilities in four Costa Rican communities using Bhutanese techniques, which effectively amounts to a transfer of technology.
3. Finally, the exchange of knowledge allowed for the development of taxonomy labs in Benin at the l’Université d’Abomey Calavi.

Lessons Learned
1. SSC can promote the dissemination of traditional ecological knowledge through its systematization and application in scientific contexts.
2. The cooperation of countries with similar problems of resource extraction (in this case, the extraction of timber from rainforests) can yield innovative solutions, as local communities in different local contexts may not have the same conception of what constitutes a “resource”.

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