The miombo woodlands are the most important sources of forest products in Malawi. Communities living in and around these woodlands continue to rely directly upon a variety of these products and services for their daily subsistence requirements as well as economic, religious and cultural sustenance. Historically, policy-makers, forest economists and foresters viewed forests primarily as a source of national revenue with timber as the most dominant product. This view is, however, rapidly changing. Awareness is now emerging of the importance of forestry products other than timber - collectively referred to as non-timber forest products (NTFP) to address the needs of the communities dependent on forests for their livelihood and income needs. Ethnobotanical studies have produced lists of NTFP from the miombo woodlands of Malawi, including uses of the derived products. However, data on quantities utilized and marketed are largely lacking. A study was therefore undertaken in three districts in Malawi to identify the most important NTFP from the miombo woodlands with regards to domestic use and/or cash income. The study identified mushrooms, fruits and firewood as the overall most important commodities. Curios, construction material, implements, bamboos, reeds and pharmaceuticals are also some of the major products in specific sites. Apart from curios, which are mainly for generating cash income, most of the products are primarily used for subsistence consumption, with mushroom, fruits and firewood being the most important products for generating local cash incomes. During the wet season, in Machinga, mushrooms are the most important cash income earners, whereas in Dedza, fruits of Uapaca kirkiana are the most important.
Ngulube, M.R. The utilization of non-timber forest products from the Miombo woodlands of Malawi : a case study. (1999)