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Small and medium forest enterprises in Ethiopia

The annual value of small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) in Ethiopia amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars – dominated in rough order of value by fuelwood, herbal remedies, wild coffee, honey and beeswax and timber furniture. The majority of these enterprises are informal and remain largely unregulated and untaxed by any government authority. Nevertheless these enterprises appear to have significant social and economic benefits. The Government of Ethiopia has responded by providing support, particularly through the framework of Micro and Small Enterprises. NGOs have also been experimenting with participatory forest management and offered training to emerging enterprises, particularly those engaged in non-timber forest products. Yet few associations have yet been established to try and access the more lucrative markets beyond the local setting.

SMFEs have great potential to reduce poverty in Ethiopia, but in their present unregulated state also represent a threat to the country’s declining forest resources. This report consolidates information about them and suggests a practical way forward for those wishing to support them.

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