When the future is sweet as honey

A farmer with his traditional bee hive ready to be used
A farmer with his traditional bee hive ready to be used

“Since I began my beekeeping business in honey production, processing and wax refining with the Value Chain project, I am now able to support my family. I am now able to 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 State.

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

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

In 2013, TGH in collaboration with UNDP started to provide support to beekeepers and mobilized them to work together as a Beekeepers Association. Abdul-Aziz quickly saw the opportunity to expand his small beekeeping business and joined the group. The project entitled “Pro-poor Value Chain Integration’’ aimed  at supporting the livelihoods of beekeepers and other groups engaged in honey production through training in improved methods of production and processing as well as promotion of  market access strategies and financial services for  the Bindizi Beekeepers Association in Central Darfur Sate. In 2013, the project provided training to 100 beekeepers on the use of modern beehives, honey wax refining and honey processing, including quality control. Over the last year the project has provided refresher trainings to ensure sustainability and ownership of the newly integrated methods.

Abdul-Aziz has 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 in Nyala, Khartoum and Omdurman. The project supported him in improving the marketing of his business 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 80% 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 skins and hides. 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.

For more photos of the beekeepers in action: http://flic.kr/p/cvakJh

Beekeeping: Economic Recovery Returns to Darfur