Apiculture or beekeeping is a process of colonizing bees and maintaining then for commercial purposes. The ideal market and traditional methodology of beekeeping that involves cutting down and burning of trees to get the honey have, however, affected the quality of the harvested honey and also the marketing of locally made honey over the years.
Moreover, these challenges have caused the penetration of imported honey on our local market, which has left locally made honey at the mercy of consumers.
Despite these hurdles, the Universal Outreach Foundation (UOF), a Canadian humanitarian organization with a purpose to serve vulnerable children and their communities through scholarships, program development, skills training and creation of educational spaces, is improving the local honey market to compete with imported honey.
“After studying the farmers that were involved with beekeeping, we realized that honey market was a major challenge and as a result we came out with a program that will stimulate the market,” said Cecil Wilson, the organization’s Country Director.
Wilson recently disclosed to this newspaper that the organization’s involvement with beekeepers has been increasing since the establishment of a honey market. UOF is currently working with two thousand beekeepers from eight of the fifteen counties including Lofa, Gbarpolu, Bomi, Grand Gedeh, Montserrado, Nimba and Bong.
“The program, which started with only ten farmers in 2011, has since grown into about two thousand beekeepers in the eight counties that we are dealing with. Through this we have experienced an increase in harvest, as we now have one thousand containers that will soon be packaged and ready to be sold to the local market,” he explained.
With the growing popularity of apiculture in rural communities, Wilson disclosed that UOF provides beekeepers in the eight counties with improved beekeeping training that promotes environmental best practices, instead of traditional methods that hurt the environment.
Furthermore, Wilson assured of UOF’s commitment to improving the livelihoods of local beekeepers through the expansion of the local honey market. However, he added, the importation of containers to package honey is still a major challenge.