About a hundred million people living in and around forests in South and Southeast Asia depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) for their subsistence and cash income. NTFPs and NTFP-derived products such as furniture, honey, varnish, beeswax candles, herbal medicine and many others are necessities in urban communities and big cities, too.

However, communities often have no access to strategic information, practical technology, and financial support to make viable enterprises. A handful of organizations saw this link between sustainable use of forest resources and economic development for indigenous peoples (IPs) and forest communities. The Non-Timber Forest Products-Exchange Programme for South and Southeast Asia (NTFP-EP) sprung from a need for these organizations working with forest communities to come together to push for and promote the NTFP concept for forest conservation and livelihood enhancement.