FAO in South Sudan

Passing on beekeeping knowledge from generation to generation

Moge, his wife Asha and their grandchildren in the apiary in Gasmalla, Maban.

Yaka Moge Hala and his family live in Gasmalla, a village near Maban, at the border with Sudan. In the past, as an agro-pastoralist he produced crops and managed a few livestock for a living. In recent years, heavy floods repeatedly washed away his livelihood, including crops and livestock, leaving Moge’s family with scarce food. Now, with his wife Asha, he is also taking care of his grandchildren entrusted by their parents to avoid going to bed hungry.

Moge is a 65 years old man with the look and energy of a teenager who does not surrender easily. Despite the hardships, he continued to hope for a better future for his children and grandchildren and while farming and looking after his cattle, he started beekeeping.

When he approached beekeeping, Moge used traditional hives and his honey production was low. “We would mostly consume all the honey at home and we remained with nothing left to sell.” On top of this, using traditional hives on trees was a dangerous practice. “Once, the bees started attacking my face, I fell off the tree and broke my leg,” he recalls. “I am old now and I could never climb up trees at night.”  

He doesn’t need to anymore. Moge’s life started changing soon after he attended a training organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with ACTED and thanks to the funding from the European Union. With other 19 beekeepers, he learned how to build improved hives using local materials and other beekeeping practices. Each beekeeper received three Kenya top bar hives, a bee protective suit, a pair of gumboots and other honey harvesting tools to boost the harvest and kick off their new activity. 

Long story short, from being a trainee, Moge is now the leader of an apiary group of six members located on the bank of Yabus river in Gasmalla. He goes to the apiary early in the morning to inspect the beehives and clean the site; in the afternoon, he gets back home to dry his harvest of sorghum. With Asha and their grandchildren, they usually spend the rest of the day sitting together under the big mango tree to thresh away the grains. Apiculture has become a family business. In the evenings of harvest time, while they keep collecting dried grains into the granary, the kids clean the compound.

The new beehives have significantly increased the amount of honey he produces. In 2019, Moge produced around fourteen liters of honey and earned 32 000 South Sudanese Pounds. “I could finally buy food for my family and pay the school fees for my two grandchildren,” he happily says while adding that he was also able to buy four chickens that have now multiplied to ten adult chickens and many other small ones.

“I bought these chickens thanks to my honey. If I need extra money to buy something now, I can sell a chicken”.

Moge’s group has 22 hives in the apiary with twelve of them already colonized ready to be harvested in January. The group is now planning to set up a honey selling point near the airport to serve travelers leaving from and arriving in Maban.

Looking back at his past, for Moge bees have meant life and prosperity. When looking at the future, he sees his all offspring employed in apiculture and he’s already working on it. “I’m passing on all my knowledge and skills to my youngest son and grandson so that they sell good honey and continue our family business.”

The European Union (EU) is one of the biggest and long-lasting contributors to FAO in South Sudan. With the project Strengthening the resilience of pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in South Sudan’s cross-border areas with Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, the EU helps FAO promote sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations by improving household food security, nutrition and income of South Sudanese. In this framework, in the last three years the project has supported 7 608 households providing them different inputs for income-generating activities (seeds, tools and equipment), just as happened to Moge.

See also

EU-funded cross-border project website