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Hidden Harvest: The value of wild resources in agricultural systems - A Project Summary

Livelihood strategies in many agricultural social, economic and ecological settings encompass a wide range of activities, of which wild resources are an integral part. Wild resources are collected to improve diets, tide people over in times of food shortage and famine, to supplement income, provide genetic material for experimentation, medicines, food, utensils, craft and building materials. Wild areas can also have cultural or spiritual importance. These values are often hidden to outsiders, hence difficult to quantify. The Hidden Harvest Project of the Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Economics Programmes of IIED was initiated to understand the importance of wild resources to rural people and to develop practical methods to make this value more visible. This paper, a summary of the project and its key findings, explores the ways in which wild resources are important not just to rural people but globally. It also describes an approach for a more comprehensive assessment of the value of the hidden harvest, and finally addresses some of the policy implications of realising and protecting the true value of the hidden harvest.

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