When the future is sweet as honey

 Abdul-Aziz Mohammed Salih prepares his honey for the market in Bindisi, Central Darfur State. Photo credit: UNDP Sudan
“Since I began my beekeeping business in honey production, processing and wax refining with the Value Chain project, I am able to support my family. I sell my products at the local market, as well as further afield in Nyala, Khartoum and Omdurman,” says Abdul-Aziz, a 50-year old father of four, from Bindisi in Central Darfur.

Along with his wife and children, Abdul-Aziz was displaced from his village when the war erupted in his area and forced to seek refuge in an IDP camp in Mukjar. He lost everything.

Before the war, Abdul-Aziz lived a quiet life and catered for the financial needs of his family through farming and supplemented his income through traditional beekeeping activities. As Abdul-Aziz fled, he was forced to abandon his livelihoods and depend on hand-outs and humanitarian aid in the camp. With a growing population and limited resources, the conditions in the camp were deplorable.  As life in the camp worsened month after month, Abdul-Aziz eventually saw no other option than to return to his village, hoping to revitalize his farming and beekeeping. However, by this time the situation in Bindisi was no better than in the camp. Abdul-Aziz struggled to increase productivity on his abandoned fields and foster beehives again.

 Honey wax is in high demand given its versatile uses in any household. Photo credit: UNDP Sudan

In 2013, the NGO Triangle Génération Humanitaire, in collaboration with UNDP, started to provide support to beekeepers and mobilized them to work together as a Beekeepers Association. Abdul-Aziz saw the opportunity to expand his small beekeeping business and joined the group. The Pro-poor Value Chain Integration project aimed at supporting the livelihoods of beekeepers and honey producers through training in improved production and processing methods as well as promotion of market access strategies and financial services for the Bindisi Beekeepers Association. In 2013, the project provided training to 100 beekeepers on the use of modern beehives, honey wax refining and honey processing. In 2014, the project provided refresher trainings to ensure sustainability and ownership of the newly integrated methods.

Abdul-Aziz attended all the training sessions and has since then been producing honey and wax at a larger scale, processing them for sale at neighboring markets and further afield. The project supported him in improving the marketing of his products such as pure honey and honey wax. With this knowledge and support, Abdul-Aziz is now competing favorably with well-known national brands. Abdul-Aziz’s sales and profit have increased by 300%[1] compared with previous years at the local market due to the improvement in the quality of his products and the wider market reach. He is now able to better support his family’s needs and the education of his children. Abdul-Aziz has regained hope for a better future.

The war in Darfur has led to the continued displacement of 2.55 million people. Across the region, traditional livelihoods are destroyed, natural resources depleted and markets closed, making the reliance on emergency relief ever greater. The UNDP-led Pro-poor Value Chain Integration project aims to support the recovery of livelihoods along a number of key traditional value chains such as honey, hibiscus, groundnuts and hides and skins. The project is implemented in 47 communities across the five Darfur states in collaboration with a number of implementing partners. The project is made possible through the generous contributions of the Swiss Development Cooperation, USAID and UNDP.

[1] From 120 pounds of crude honey (sold at 15 SDG per pound) to 450 pounds of pure honey (at 30 SDG per pound). In addition, he also produced an additional 35-50 pounds of pure wax per season (25 SDG per pound)

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