Provide training and investment to communities suitable for beekeeping development

June 13, 2017

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China

Provide training and investment to communities suitable for beekeeping development

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 are working in highly bio-diverse regions with the native honeybee Apis cerana. This is unique in that we do not import European honeybees to our sites. While Asian honeybees do not produce as much honey as their European counterparts, they require must less capital to maintain, are not afflicted with diseases requiring antibiotic treatment, and are well suited to the existing floral resources in mountain and forest ecosystems of Asia. The honey is also valued up to 8 times higher than that of European honeybees, making the need for stable market access a premium need for our beekeepers. In order to preserve the traditional beekeeping styles found in Western China, we give our beekeepers the option of switching to modern boxes or keeping their log hives. We have done this by creating a new kind of honey extractor that works with traditional Asian log hives to extract honey cleanly. Traditional beekeeping has great benefits for elderly people who are potentially unable to successfully change management styles and are currently excluded from higher value markets. Log hives have previously been much less cost effective at cleanly processing store quality honey, but we are changing that with our innovation. We also provide investment to communities in the form of equipment, either freely given or traded for honey. We provide interest free loans for our beekeepers and are creating a "disaster fund" to help support beekeepers in years of bad weather or bee diseases.

Nature Element

Forests / Mountains / Grasslands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Awareness and education

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Food security / Disaster risk reduction

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

      

Environmental Impacts

Our work places an economic incentive on protecting the environment. 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. Across Chinese villages fifty million lost children have been left behind. Those adults who stay in villages often only find work in extractive industries such as logging. Logging is illegal in many regions of rural China today. However, famers can earn around 20,000-30,000 RMB per year logging. Our program has promise because a skilled beekeeper can earn around 40,000RMB per year from around 60 Apis cerana beehives. Many of our beekeepers are former loggers and poachers that do not wish to risk prison time or continue to harm the forest. We currently work with around 26 families that fit this description. In addition, pollination benefits increase crop yields of the entire community by 30 percent.

Sustainable Development Impacts

When adults can make a living in their own village the rural vitality of the entire community is positively impacted. Local people are the best stewards of their environment from outside interests that often seek to illegally extract their resources, but when adults are not present protecting these resources is nearly impossible. In addition, there are positive benefits when children can live with their parents within their own cultural community. Currently, in each of the 7 villages we are working in, there are several families with sons in prison for illegal logging. The negative incarceration impacts also affect the entire community. We require that beekeepers do not engage in these activities and have a blacklist from our market should we discover any illegal acts. The pollination services delivered by bees means that food production increases without need for tilling new forest into cropland.

Scalability

The amount of honey purchased by Elevated Honey Co. over the next two years will at least double. Purchasing 2-­5 tons next year and 3-­7 tons the following. The production in our region is already high from continuous training activities, but we have been making necessary investments in processing and personnel infrastructure before scaling. The Chinese honey market is first in the world in domestic honey consumption. The amount of honey Chinese consume has doubled from 2005 to 2015 and is forecasted to double again from the current 300,000 tons consumed annually. While the market exists for the honey produced across indigenous mountain communities in China, they currently lack access. At the same time, urban consumers cannot source safe honey products. Our value proposition is that we have the contacts across China to connect honey-producing communities and have made partners that can assist us in marketing this product on a large scale.

Replicability

There are hundreds of thousands of farmers across Asia that live in conditions very suitable for beekeeping with native honeybees as a primary source of income. We have piloted a model that we believe works well and are ready to scale now across new communities in China and then onto SE Asia. We are expanding to new villages in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture where we work now. We also have a new partnership we are forming with Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture government to work with new villages in the tropical forests there. In Hong He region of Yunnan, we are working with business people to form a partnership with government and start a processing centre there. Recently, a contact from the Stimson Centre reached out to us about working with communities in the North of Laos being relocated because of large hydropower projects and lacking a source of income although being near floral resources. Our platform and supply chain approach could tie these communities together.

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