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The following item is taken from a report prepared by BETRESP (Henk van Blitterswijk, Dabbel Bahadur Bam, Lal Kumar Shrestha, Keshav Pandit Chettri and Jan Hoekstra) for Save the Children Fund, USA.
These findings are from a survey carried out in the Gorkha District, in the western region of Nepal, about 100 km west of Kathmandu. The survey was to evaluate the beekeeping development programme of Save the Children Fund in the district, as well as to advise on future actions. Beekeeping can be an income-generating activity. This is the main reason for promoting it. However, quantifying and generalising the profits of beekeeping is extremely difficult for various reasons:
- the skill of the beekeeper is of major importance;
- some places are more suitable for beekeeping than others;
- honey harvests vary from year to year;
- it is very difficult to take absconding into account;
- some strains of bees are better than others;
- the effect of pollination by bees on crop yield is hard to measure
The results of the survey allowed the following conclusions to be made :
- The financial input with modern beekeeping with top-bar hives is quite high The calculated average extra output, the highly fluctuating honey yields and the risks of absconding usually do not justify the initial investment.
- The costs for the farmer who wants to start beekeeping with an improved type of hive can be decreased by subsidising the equipment, giving equipment as incentives after training, having the hives made locally, sharing equipment or developing equipment of cheaper materials.
- However one important question has to be answered, "Can a farmer continue improved beekeeping in the long run completely without outside financial aid?" Only a positive answer means that one is supporting an economic undertaking.
- A beekeeping programme does not have to focus only on beekeeping with modern hives, but can also concentrate on improving traditional beekeeping.
[Bees for Development Journal #26]