To counter youth unemployment and the exodus from rural areas, Biovision is working with its partner icipe to help committed youngsters in rural Ethiopia set up companies for the production of high-quality honey and beeswax. This not only improves incomes but also encourages biodiversity and the pollinations of crops in adjacent fields.
In addition to beekeeping, the young entrepreneurs are also developing tree nurseries. To ensure that the bees have access to nectar, fruit trees and vegetable gardens are being developed using organic methods. They not only provide food for the bees but also regenerate degraded soils.
The project is located in the Dehana District in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region. It is some 755 km north of Addis Abeba at a height of 2,000 - 3,400 metres above sea level.
The majority of those living in Dehana District are subsistence farmers and keep cattle and grow crops. Life has become much harder for rural populations because of increasingly difficult climatic conditions (particularly droughts) and the overexploitation of natural resources (especially logging). However, drought and deforestation not only make life more difficult for people. It is also a problem for the bees. There has been a decline in the essential pollination by bees and so yields are much more unpredictable causing even more problems for local farmers.
300 young people from the region (50% women) are being trained as beekeepers; in addition, there are 2 tailors who make the protective clothing, 10 carpenters who make the modern beehives and 18 local dealers in honey and beeswax.
Objectives of current project phase
Establish modern beekeeping as an attractive business and source of income for young people in rural areas. By adopting an integrated approach, Biovision is helping to tackle the problems of rural poverty, low agricultural productivity and soil degradation.
By the end of 2020:
- 30 beekeeping start-ups each with 10 young entrepreneurs are operational
- The young entrepreneurs are producing 15-25 kg honey from each beehive each year
- 30 tree nurseries (one per start-up) established and operating organically.
Achievements to date
The first phase of the project started on 1 January 2018. It is making considerable use of the experience acquired from 2011 to 2017 during the Biovision beekeeping project in another region of Ethiopia (Tolay):
The Tolay project created a total of 800 jobs in five years. The beekeepers established a self-supporting cooperative – the Honey Union, through which some 6 tonnes of organic honey was processed and sold in 2016.
A total of 10 partnerships are now sharing with other farmers the knowledge and experience gained by the 260 beekeepers in this initial project. As a result, the health of more than 750 colonies of bees is being regularly monitored.
The entrepreneurial approach adopted by the project gives the start-ups an economic incentive to continue as independent businesses in future. The small businesses are strongly anchored in local villages and the reforestation will benefit the entire community. In addition, it will help to counter the rural exodus and so ensure that the project is integrated within society. At the same time, specialists from local government are taking an active role in spreading the introduction of modern beekeeping. This will ensure that the knowledge and skills acquired during the project is retained by the relevant government offices after it has finished.