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FAO supports rural beekeeping in eastern Ukraine

With 1.5 percent of the local population in Ukraine engaged in beekeeping, the country is the top player in Europe for honey production.

Contributing to that production has been the practice of honey hunting, or the plundering of wild honeybee nests to obtain honey and beeswax. During pre-conflict times, it was practiced actively in the eastern regions, but the ongoing military conflict has transformed a large number of natural honey-hunting zones into military areas.

As a part of an emergency response programme, FAO will donate 150 bee colonies to people in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, with each colony comprising around 35 000 bees. Some 50 smallholders from Volnovaskyi and Stanychno-Luhanskyi districts, in villages located within 8 km of the contact line, will receive assistance.

Some of the beneficiaries are professional beekeepers, while others will be engaging in the practice for the first time. As such, the donations will help offset the loss of honey hunting while also engaging others – including the currently unemployed – in income-generating activities.

Each beneficiary will receive three bee packages and a full set of beekeeping tools, including a honey extractor, bee smoker, protective jacket and mask, filters and 5 kg of wax. In addition to the basic equipment, all farmers will participate in a series of specialized trainings and receive step-by-step guides on bee growing and honey hunting.

“We see beekeeping as an important occupation and part of rural life worldwide, and also as a key income-generating activity,” said Andre Arriaza, FAO programme officer. “In Ukrainian rural communities, where access to income is limited, small-scale beekeeping can contribute significantly to improving the resilience of vulnerable populations.”

FAO experts explain that beekeeping does not need to take up valuable land. Depending on type, hives may be placed in trees, on scraps of wasteland or on flat rooftops. This makes beekeeping a feasible activity for smallholders and people without land.

“Beekeepers can create further assets by using honey and beeswax to make secondary products,” Arriaza added. “Our training programme is aimed at not just teaching how to grow bees but also at explaining that selling a secondary product can bring a far better return for the producer than selling the raw commodity.”

The work carried out under the existing response programme will come to an end in early July. The emergency support represents a significant contribution towards the achievement of enhanced food security for more than 19 000 households in 90 villages along the contact line in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, FAO has distributed specialized machinery for up to 20 agricultural cooperatives, together with business trainings and consultations. All of the farming inputs and equipment distributed by FAO in Ukraine have been procured locally in the country.

“FAO established field teams to monitor all the operations in eastern Ukraine, which had a 99-percent delivery rate,” said Mikhail Malkov, FAO development project coordinator in Ukraine. “Even though the programme has ended, its contributions have not. Almost all of the state and international parties involved have committed to build on what the FAO projects started.”
FAO continues to implement more than a dozen projects in Ukraine, addressing a variety of agriculture-related issues and supporting the overall development of the sector.

29 June, 2018, Kyiv, Ukraine

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