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The specialist international beekeeping organisation
Bees for development 89 4 Text on this website
Honey - a product of value in Southern Sudan? Keywords:? Africa bee products beekeeping development honey hunting honey trade? After years of conflict Southern Sudan is enjoying a fragile peace and reconstruction and development are underway.? Decades of civil war have caused agriculture to collapse and there is no industry.? Our food building materials and fuel are imported from Kenya and Uganda.? Hundreds of trucks a day roll through the border posts of Nimule Koboko and Lokichoggio loaded with goods including potatoes beer sugar building materials fuel spare parts fruit and grass mats.? On their way back the truck drivers are keen to buy anything local to offset the costs of the return journey but there is little to buy.? However one local product stands out as being available in Southern Sudan and in good demand in Kenya and Uganda - honey.? ? ? Bees for Development has been working with Dr Jacob Mogga to survey four counties in Southern Sudan.? Our aim is to understand the importance of honey selling for the rural communities and to analyse the potential for developing a successful honey industry in the region.? ? The survey revealed the importance of honey within the communities.? Owning many hives is considered prestigious and reflects the fact that honey is highly valued for its social cultural and economic benefits. ? Honey is used for marriage ceremonies as gifts for medicine and as payment for labour and in exchange for goods.? The nutritional benefits of honey are appreciated and beekeepers reported that their families consume 10-25% of all honey harvested.? Since the advent of the cash economy honey is increasingly valued as a cash commodity and sold to traders and lorry drivers who know there is a large demand for honey beyond the immediate area.? During the survey Dr Mogga visited four communities in four counties.? In three of them honey was considered the most important source of cash as shown in Table 1.? Table 1. Source of income prioritised by beekeepers in four bomas in Southern Sudan
? In many societies beekeeping is seen as a sideline activity and it is not always the case that beekeepers rank honey as their main income source.? This result is therefore significant.? Honey hunting is still common but beekeeping is more important.? In all the areas visited beekeepers described leaving brood and unripe honey combs and they explained how they tried not to disturb the queen when harvesting.? When beekeepers report yields of honey harvested they tend to combine the volumes they harvest from beekeeping and honey hunting. ? Table 2 shows the range over three years of average honey yields and the contribution of honey sales to overall income earned.? Table 2.? Average honey yields and contribution to total income
? These results show that honey is valued as a source of income and that beekeeping is an important farm activity.? ? One purpose of the study was to understand the potential for beekeeping as the basis for a successful industry. ? Therefore Dr Mogga and the BfD team considered the honey industry also from a commercial perspective. ? Local people appreciated that honey was a commodity with significant potential citing the clear demand for Sudanese honey outside the local area.? Lorry drivers from Kenya and Uganda are always quick to buy and traders recognise the demand for honey also in Northern Sudan.? Transport costs are very high in the area because the war has devastated the road network but honey is considered more cost effective to transport than many other agricultural crops such as maize and sorghum because of its high value per volume.? It is non-perishable and needs little further processing thus increasing its marketability.? There are great challenges:? no organised marketing channels exist and this means that during the honey harvest season traders will bargain hard to pay low prices. ? This is a cause of frustration for beekeepers.? The lack of adequate storage containers is a constraint for trade. ? A beekeeper who has filled all available jerry cans cannot harvest more until the honey is sold.? Traders have the same limitations.? Building a higher value industry will require selling into markets with different quality expectations and current harvesting and handling methods are not consistent with these markets.? BfD plans to work further with Dr Mogga to address some of these problems. ? Our focus will be to help beekeepers overcome constraints associated with storage and bulking as well as training beekeepers on improved harvesting and handling processes.? As development planners create a vision for a streamlined commercial honey industry it is important not to lose sight of the current benefits of beekeeping.? The rural communities have valued honey for its economic benefits long before supermarkets were invented.? Bees have played a big role in preventing these war torn communities from even greater depths of suffering by providing food and a tradable commodity. ? The beekeepers from Bogori explained that a tribal fight in 2006 resulted in the loss of their cattle. ? Against this loss the resilience of beekeeping emerged - it remains and continues to give benefits much appreciated by the communities of Southern Sudan.BfD Trust acknowledges Big Lottery Fund support for this work in 2008.? We are seeking funds to continue:? please contact us if you can.?