The diversity of climates, growing conditions and ecosystems in the mountains give them a comparative advantage for high-value niche products and service. One area may have an untapped wealth of medicinal plants; another may have potential for indigenous beekeeping and honey productions; others may be potential sources of soaps and lotions, bamboo or nettle. Even ruggedness and remoteness can be an economic advantage when an area can attract tourism. A range of activities, products and services have excellent potential to provide sustainable livelihood options for mountain people.
To enable this to happen, ICIMOD promotes a pro-poor value chain development approach to enhance income for mountain households. This means expanding access to information, financial services and micro-finance and strengthening farmers’ groups, cooperatives and agri-businesses. It involves value chain analyses of products and services and the identification of niche products. It’s about finding out what products mountain people can produce and sell, enabling them to find the finances to do it, and determining how to link these products to the market.