Beekeeping Fuels Economic Empowerment in Dangla

By Zach Walters, Volunteer

The practice and art of beekeeping has been a longstanding staple in the history of Ethiopia’s economic development. A global leader in the development of beeswax and honey, Ethiopia possesses the 5th most beehives of any country in the world, after only India, China, Turkey and Iran. Given Ethiopia’s temperate climate and expansive variety of native flora, locally produced honey is uniquely high-quality in terms of water content, essential enzyme concentration, and shelf life without fermentation.

This, of course, presents enormous opportunities for local employment and sustainable economic development — but the potential is largely untapped. While the nation has potential for the production of nearly 500,000 tons of honey and 50,000 tons of beeswax, current production levels are only about 10% of these levels due to infrastructural limitations. The price of modern beekeeping materials necessary for the production of market-grade honey remains out of reach for most farmers, and knowledge transfer amidst beekeepers has been inherently constrained. Fortunately, these limitations are entirely surmountable with affordable, existing solutions.

Local and international demand for Ethiopia’s honey is steadily increasing, and prices are closely following suit, rising from 180 birr/kilo to 300 birr/kilo in the last three years. As a result, interest among rural farmers to learn and partake in the beekeeping industry, often as a part-time employment opportunity alongside other farming efforts, has been ticking upward. This marks an incredible time for Project Ethiopia to empower transformative economic efforts by enabling access to necessary equipment and training, and our extraordinary Project Leader, Workineh Genetu, has been leading the way.

Workineh, an established beekeeper, agricultural industry leader, and Ethiopia’s Farmer of the Year award-winner, has been a catalyst of change, earning a grant from the Agricultural Transformation Agency for the distribution of 600 beehives amongst 200 Dangla farmers. Given the immense potential for impact in a time of need, Workineh has set in place an interest-free, three-year repayment period for the farmers, enabling future purchases of additional beehives to empower sustainable beekeeping businesses. With proper care, each hive can sustain service for 20 years.

Beyond this, Workineh has identified and selected new beekeepers, facilitated the distribution of beehives, managed payment processing for beehive collection, and developed a system for shared extractor and wax printing tools, which are far too expensive for ownership by a single farmer. Most importantly, Workineh has empowered incoming beekeepers through education, training, and hands-on experience sharing for the management of beekeeping and honey production. With your help, Project Ethiopia is working to provide the necessary equipment and training for this lasting initiative, enabling a rapidly expanding industry and a new source of income for hundreds of local families.

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