I have come across bee-keeping in the context of a participatory nutrition project in Somalia. Honey production and beekeeping was one of the livelihoods interventions identified by communities and local NGOs as a means to improve food security of families who had lost their livestock because of the combination of drought and conflict.
The project hired a Kenyan expert who visited the area, studied traditional honey production practices and identified three models of locally appropriate hives, one of which was retained by local beekeepers. Training for construction and operation was then provided. Honey production was multiplied by three by the end of the project.
This component was extremely successful for a variety of reasons:
- there is a high demand for honey from both the local market (for medical purposes) and the Gulf States
- honey is stable, can be sold all year and is easy to transport by bush taxi (the beekeepers sent a representative to sell the honey at a better price in the port of Bosasso)
- honey production is based on common property resources, which makes it an optimal coping mechanism and livelihood strategy for displaced people
- people learned to use wax and make candles which provided light at night “and smelled delicious”
- it was one of several synergistic interventions which revived the local economy.
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