Creating an online platform and complementary logistical system for beekeepers and consumers

June 13, 2017

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China

Creating an online platform and complementary logistical system for beekeepers and consumers

About the Implementing organization

Name: Elevated Honey Co

Country: China

Year of establishment: 2014

Type of organization: Community enterprise or business / Cooperative business / Public-private partnership / Indigenous group or organization

Description

We will create a logistical system via a digital platform that will allow beekeepers to communicate with us about production, request help for bee diseases, view market prices, and see consumer orders. Consumers can use this platform to purchase honey, trace each batch back to the field, and watch their honey being produced through webcams. We will act as gatekeepers of the platform, requiring strict adherence from our producers to a honey testing system. The main goal of this system is to provide more transparency for producers and consumers, and offer extension services that are not currently available to remote communities. The current system of honey buying and selling is controlled by middle buyers. Beekeepers must sell to them wholesale at whatever price they can get in their village. A lack of information prevents them from making informed sales decisions. Middle buyers often taint the honey and the profits remain with them. Consumers cannot get access to villages to buy pure honey. Our platform will begin to roll out services to both groups through the Wechat social network. This is a great way to test which services are needed and to develop our platform, because we don't need to get user adoption. Beekeepers and consumers we work with are already communicating with us via Wechat. Thus, this is the best way to begin reaching the highest number of users while we develop increasingly sophisticated services for our target groups.

Nature Element

Forests / Mountains / Grasslands

Type of Action

Protection / Mainstreaming into sectors / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

  

Environmental Impacts

Without the above-mentioned logistical system and direct producer/consumer connection, the endemic fake honey problem will continue to surge throughout China. It has been estimated that 82 percent of honey found in Chinese grocery stores has been adulterated or mishandled in some fashion. The benefits that beekeeping brings to a community include economic incentive to maintain bio-diverse landscapes, increased pollination services, and alternative sources of income to logging or poaching. However, without a better supply chain that offers choices to beekeepers, none of these benefits can be realized and the project mission of beekeeping for development will remain unfulfilled.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Problems in the supply chain of the Chinese beekeeping industry are causing poverty and tainting honey. Approximately 250,000 families from mountain communities across SW China keep between 1 and 100 log hives, yet lack of market access prevents them from profiting from their honey, sending them searching for work in cities. Without adults able to positively earn an income in their villages, rural life deteriorates rapidly. The main economic centers in China are already overcrowded and healthy rural income opportunities are direly needed in the countryside. The online platform and fair supply chain of Elevated Honey Co, works with beekeepers to provide choices in sales and options for advancement in the company without requiring that villagers relocate to an urban center for employment.

Scalability

The online platform will allow Elevated Honey Co. to continue to develop a "franchise model" across rural indigenous communities. The platform will allow for increased collaboration and communication between honey producing communities. For example, a bidding system could be implemented when the project is scaled to an appropriate level. Beekeepers could view from their phones what the different price options are for their honey sales. They could choose to sell under our brand or wholesale to other retailers, based on the orders they would see through the platform. If they did not have enough honey to fill the order, they could collaborate and pool honey with other communities to reach markets that would otherwise be out of reach to scattered, sparsely populated communities. At the same time, this platform would be selling only tested and verified honey, thus providing a valuable service to honey buyers at all scales and acting as a model supply chain for other industries.

Replicability

The "franchise model" listed above will be developed in all centers that are beekeeping training locations. First, farmers will be trained in modern beekeeping, or else given equipment and processing help to make cleaner honey using their traditional methods. Community leaders will be identified for further training and higher roles of responsibility (and profit sharing) within the company. A branch office and bottling facility will be created, much like the one being built currently in Diqing Prefecture using local supplies and local labor. The job positions that are created in each center will be filled with local people and will include a manager of the center, drivers for honey shipments, bottling and packaging processors, and quality control personnel. These centers will adhere to our guidelines about production, processing, testing, etc. The "franchise model" is most appropriate for us because each geographical region will require a slightly different community approach.

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