Utilisation of half of the Allo — from collection and processing to sales — will not only generate huge employment in rural hilly areas but also help create business worth billions.
"If we are able to utilise even half of the total Allo found in 58 districts of the country, it will not only generate employment for over 100,000 people, but also help create business worth billions of rupees," said National Programme Manager of Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) Dr Lakshman Pun, addressing a stakeholders workshop on 'Allo value chain', in Dhulikhel today.
Allo — Girardinia diversifolia — is a non-timber forest product that is found at an altitude between 1,200 metres to 3,000 metres, and has a huge potential for exports too, he said, adding that the current forestry policy has to facilitate the business which is one of the major tools for reducing poverty in rural hilly areas and especially for women of the indigenous community.
The Allo plant is harvested in autumn and winter from community and government owned forests. Indigenous communities like Magars and Rais have been using the Himalayan nettle — commonly known as Allo — as a weaving thread for shawls, blankets, bags and clothes since long, but with modern textiles replacing traditional natural fabrics, the age-old practice is on the verge of extinction.
However, many women from the hills are pursuing the enterprise after the UNDP MEDEP, in 1999, identified Allo as a potential raw material for starting an enterprise. The stem bark of Allo contains natural fibres with unique qualities, said Pun. "With product diversification, around 370 types of products can be made from Allo."
But lack of marketing and quality, besides lack of technology, has hit the production of products from Allo, entrepreneurs said, asking help from the government and MEDEP to upgrade the quality of products that could help increase market competitiveness.
Similarly, there is a lack of data on the potential stock of Allo that could be harvested on a sustainable basis, they added.