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Make honey a priority

Make honey a priority

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FAO’s One Country, One Producer Priority initiative supports beekeepers and honey producers in Rwanda and Viet Nam

05/17/2024

Mr. Patrick Uwingabire started learning beekeeping when he was just 11 years old. In their village of Hue, in the southern province of Rwanda, his uncle and grandfather taught him everything they knew about making beehives and caring for these important creatures.

Beekeeping offered him a path forward when his family could not afford his school fees. “It was not possible for me to go to school. It was not affordable for us. So bees and honey became the pillars of my life,” the 39-year-old said.

Today, Mr Patrick runs a cooperative of 15 beekeepers in Huye, called Koperative Abavumvu b’ Umwuga ba Huye (KOPAHU), which benefits from a project funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and aims to modernize the Rwandan agricultural system. beekeeping sector.

The main part of the project involved replacing traditional beehives with 35 contemporary rectangular structures. These modern hives make it easier to examine and collect honey, improving honey production and increasing profits for beekeepers by two or three times.

Mr. Patrick and his fellow beekeepers have also acquired new skills in apiary management, monitoring of hives, control of bee diseases and pests, marketing of their products, ensuring better quality and traceability of the hive to the client.

Mr Patrick said: “Before the training provided by the organisation, we did not know how to care for bees. » “Before, I harvested between 800 and 900 kilos of honey per year, but today I can harvest more than two tonnes. »

The cooperative also acquired a number of honey purification machines, which its members, like most of Rwanda’s 120,000 beekeepers, had never used before. The organization is actively working to fill this gap by providing training in modern methodologies and equipment, having already trained 9,000 beekeepers in Rwanda.

“We were amazed at how effective the new technology was,” Mr. Patrick continued, and with the increase in production, “I was able to build a house on part of the land I purchased with my honey income. I can provide for my family and be able to pay. my children’s school fees.

Make honey a priority
Make honey a priority

A key part of the organization’s project in Rwanda was to replace traditional hives with modern, rectangular hives that make honey collection easier, improve honey production and increase beekeepers’ profits by two or three times. ©FAO/Olivier Mugwiza

Mr. Nguyen Van Son, a beekeeper living in the mountains of Vietnam, is following a similar path, albeit in a remote region on the other side of the world. Even though they have never met, they share the same spirit of innovation. Mr. Son, a lively man with white hair and youthful features, tends beehives amid the lush tropical landscape of Vietnam’s northern mountainous region.

“Beekeeping provides a stable income for my family,” explains this experienced beekeeper with 40 years of experience. “It provides economic benefits to my family and provides honey products to my community.

What MM. Patrick and Son also have in common that their countries actively participate in the organization’s One Country, One Priority Product initiative, with honey being identified as the selected priority product.

This initiative aims to strengthen the entire value chain of the product chosen by the country as having great potential. In this case, FAO provides support to improve honey production and processing methods and maximize benefits for farmers and other actors in the supply chain.

Through this initiative, the organization supports environmentally sustainable practices aimed at reducing reliance on harmful chemicals and creating a harmonized ecosystem. At the same time, community awareness programs encourage people living near apiaries to appreciate the importance of bees and pollination and discourage them from eliminating them as pests.

Make honey a priority

In Viet Nam, the initiative helps honey producers, like Mr. Nguyen Van Son, export their products around the world. The climate and abundance of wildflowers and tropical fruits in Vietnam allow Asian bees to produce honey with a unique fruity taste. ©FAO/Nguyen Duc Toan

Viet Nam’s climate and abundance of wildflowers and tropical fruits such as longan, a relative of the lychee, provide an ideal environment for Asian bees to produce honey with a unique light fruity taste. The main objective of this initiative is to help Viet Nam develop its honey export markets globally.

With Viet Nam actively participating in the initiative, Mr. Son is “delighted that Vietnamese honey has been selected as a priority product for export. We want to further develop beekeeping to promote Vietnamese honey globally.”

Since the launch of FAO’s One Country, One Commodity Priority initiative in September 2021, more than 85 countries around the world have committed to promoting 54 agricultural products.

Besides Rwanda and Viet Nam, Benin and Chile have also chosen honey as a priority product, with the organization launching similar training and support programs to strengthen their beekeeping sectors, enabling producers to promote honey and its products in regional and global markets.

Links related to the topic

for more information:

Website: One country, one priority product

Website: World Bee Day – May 20

Website: Food and Agriculture Organization of Viet Nam

Website: Food and Agriculture Organization of Rwanda

Website: FAO Bee Stories

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