In Kyrgyzstan Bees for Development is working with local partners to help beekeepers access mountain pastures for their beekeeping. The main local partner is RDF, a local NGO which specialises in delivering local initiatives to alleviate poverty and achieve sustainable development in rural areas. Together we have secured support from the Darwin Initiative to deliver the Project Equitable access to pasture use for beekeepers in Kyrgyz Republic.

Kyrgyz honey is produced in herb rich mountain pastures which bloom from May to mid-August following sub-zero winters. But beekeeping is declining as conflict with livestock herders over access to the pastures is exacerbated by population growth and pressure on these unique ecosystems. Bees for Development and our partners RDF and the Kyrgyz Association of Beekeepers are starting work to improve public understanding of the value of honey bees and their pollination services, to promote beekeeping as a sustainable and environmentally beneficial livelihood for young herders in the northern Kyrgyzstan pastures of Chon-Kemin, and to ensure that beekeepers’ rights to use pastures are recognised in law and practice.

Hives on a wagon in Chon Kemin

Umut Zholdoshova of RDF says: “The project is very timely in the light of the Pasture legislation reforming in the republic. Pastures are important not only for the herders, but also for the secondary users of pastures, such as beekeepers, collectors of herbs and berries, etc. By promoting the interests of beekeepers in this project, we do hope to achieve not only equitable access to and sustainable use of pasture resources, but also contribute to poverty reduction in rural communities and sustainable use of rangeland resources of Chon-Kemin valley.”

RDF will train beekeepers in GIS mapping to record their migratory routes through the summer pastures, and young herders will be trained in beekeeping and supported in start up through a small grants programme. Focus groups with herders and beekeepers will feed into discussion of pasture management at the local pasture users’ union. At national level we will lobby for an amendment recognising beekeepers as secondary pasture users through ongoing reform to the Pasture Law.

 This project is sponsored by the Darwin Initiative