Nelly Bassily | April 7, 2008
Avid FRW readers may have recalled last week’s news story “Conservation groups save trees, earn profits” when they read this story about butterfly farming. Both fruit harvesting and butterfly farming can play a role in protecting forests. This is because both activities show people the economic value of maintaining biologically-diverse woodlands. This makes them far less likely to over-exploit a forest’s resources, and much more likely to defend it against those who would. And while fruit harvesting and processing may be more common, butterfly farming has been taken up by people in parts of Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.
Butterflies are also an interesting example of a niche crop, which is a specialized crop with a very particular but limited market. Many varieties of butterflies can only be found in limited areas, making them of high value and interest to a select number of butterfly exhibitors worldwide.
For more information of butterfly farming, you may visit:
-The website of the Kipepeo Project: http://www.kipepeo.org/
-A BBC news story on butterfly farming in Tanzania: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3569164.stm
-“All about butterfly farming”, an article produced by a Costa Rican butterfly farm:
-Butterfly FAQ by the Costa Rican butterfly farm:
You may also wish to revisit some of the following scripts from DCFRN Package 80, which focused on niche agricultural products. (For an introduction to niche agricultural products, you may also visit the Voices newsletter for Package 80 at: http://farmradio.org/english/publications/voices/v2007mar.asp.)
Finally, you may wish to research a local news story about a farmer, or farmers’ group, that produces a niche crop:
-How did the person or group learn about the crop?
-What research did they do to ensure that it would grow/work well in their area? What else did they have to learn before they started production?
-What kind of market research did they conduct to ensure that they could earn a profit?
-If specific production equipment was required, how did they obtain it? Did they need a loan to start producing their niche crop?
-How much do they now earn with their niche crop? Is it their family’s main source of income, or a supplement?
-What problems did they encounter on their way to establishing a successful business, and how did they overcome these problems? Do they have any other advice for farmers who may wish to try a niche crop?