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Growing imbalance between supply and demand for rattan?

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A key objective of the joint FAO-INBAR-Sida Expert Consultation on Rattan Development (Dec. 2000) was to analyse the global supply situation and to formulate key requirements to guarantee a sustainable future supply of rattan. The meeting highlighted that most of the raw material for local processing and for supplying the rattan industry is still obtained by harvesting of unmanaged, wild rattan resources in natural tropical forests. Only a very small share is obtained from rattan plantations. The huge economic and social importance of the rattan sector is based on a dwindling stock of wild rattan mainly from forests of tropical Asia and, therefore, compromising its future outlook. However, there are no reliable statistics on the status of rattan resources at a regional level for Asia and Africa in order to assess if the supply situation is really critical or not. A preliminary review of available data on trade in rattan products showed that reported quantities remained within approximately the same levels from 1995 to 2001. When looking at data from the international trade in rattan products during this period, there seems to be no indication of an imbalance between supply and demand, neither that the global cane supply is decreasing. What has changed is the direction of trade: Indonesia is now the main exporter of cane and China is the world's biggest importer. Shortages in the supply of cane may indeed in some cases be caused by dwindling resources of rattan in the forests, but in the economically successfully performing countries of South East Asia, a shortage of cane is often more due to the fact that rural people are gradually less interested in rattan harvesting as other (and better) options to sustain their livelihoods become available.


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