- Plan Bee Beekeeping Project -
Some have Plan A; Tag has Plan Bee.
Tag is delivering a major project to modernise beekeeping in Myanmar (Burma) projected to impact on the lives of 100,000 people by building capacity of the beekeeping and honey production sector in Shan State that will improve employment, skills, nutrition and livelihood opportunities. The project is supported by the United Nations through its affiliate LIFT, a livelihood multi-donor fund for Burma that includes the EU, Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA. The project builds upon a pilot and training in beekeeping already delivered in the country by Tag.
Myanmar is taking important steps towards democracy but lags behind in most areas of development. Together with the Myanmar Government’s Ministry of Livestock and several local community organisations, the project is introducing training and equipment, testing and adapting technologies to the local context to strengthen the capacities of local people to develop processing and marketing of organic honey and by products for local and international markets.
The project has initiated 19 Community-Based Enterprises, small cooperatives of new beekeepers, and is providing them with the necessary training and support to become successful small businesses. The project is also providing advanced training to existing beekeepers, and for the first time in Myanmar is providing training on artificial insemination of queen bees, which is crucial to a vibrant and productive honey industry.
Based in South Shan, one of four Myanmar states which account for two third of the country’s total food poverty and famous for its ethnic diversity and tourist attractions, an area that is also rich in natural resources, with agricultural production including mangoes, oranges, avocados, garlic, sunflowers, jujube, niger, wheat, rice and rich bio-diversified forests.
Run by a team of 20 staff, with offices in Yangon, Pindaya and Aung Ban, Tag is working hard to deliver an inclusive project, helping some of the most vulnerable people, including landless, youth, women and households with disability.
The project is contributing to poverty alleviation in this region not only directly by offering attractive alternative and sustainable income generating opportunities along with all the necessary inputs of training, knowledge, equipment and capacity-building, but also indirectly because beekeeping and pollination can support agricultural interventions and small to medium enterprise promotion.
For vulnerable and landless people, bee-keeping offers a fantastic opportunity to improve their livelihoods. Bee-keeping enables multiple benefits that are hard to replicate with any other agro-related industry:
- Honey is a high value ‘crop’ and generates a high income
- Produces wax, propolis and other bee-produced materials
- Honey is highly nutritious
- Honey has medicinal value
- Aids pollination of crops, dramatically increasing their quality and quantity
- Bee-keepers can earn additional income from pollination services to farmers
- Does not require land ownership, thereby empowering women, youth, landless and vulnerable people
- Stimulates secondary industries, from beehive construction to candle making
Tag’s chairman, Ricardo Leiman, said, “Tag’s motto is ‘sharing expertise, changing lives’
and this project is a fantastic example of how sharing valuable knowhow can lead to the improving of life chances for tens of thousands of people. We are delighted to have been given this opportunity to expand our work in Myanmar.”
Please watch another news item on Myanmar TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO1SmqUlQB8
Background to the project
In 2012, Tag International Development Agronomist together with MASHAV expert undertook an extensive feasibility study and capacity building training to assess Myanmar’s beekeeping sector. The assessment was conducted by Yeshayahu Stern, Tag agronomist and beekeeping expert and Dr. Boris Yakobson, specialist in bee diseases and Director of the Kimron Veterinarian Institute, along with U Yei Hla Aung, then Director of the Myanmar Apiculture Division of the Department of Agriculture, now Project Manager for our beekeeping project. Mr. Stern is an agronomist and beekeeping expert with over 30 years’ experience in apiculture, horticulture and plant protection. His expertise has been employed in over 25 countries and in the early 1980s, he provided preliminary training and technical support to Myanmar’s fledgling beekeeping industry.
Together with local partners, they mapped out and evaluated the state of beekeeping in Myanmar and held discussions to determine the type of assistance that would most benefit Myanmar’s beekeepers. With this information, Tag, the Ministry and private beekeepers developed a joint action plan upon which our Plan Bee project is now based.
Agriculture is the main income-generating activity for two‐thirds of the rural population, with one sixth of Myanmar constituting agricultural land. The beekeeping industry is the only agricultural sector that does not require a land or water allocation. It is particularly suitable for women and youth as it does not require much time, return on investment is high, the activity is stationary and can be kept close to home as a complementary source of income.
Myanmar’s environmental conditions, such as an abundance of nectar-rich vegetation, are ideal for the production of organic honey, which would bring Myanmar beekeepers significantly higher returns on the international market.
The importance of the beekeeping sector in agriculture goes beyond the income generating activity it provides to the beekeeper. Bees fulfil an important role in pollination and thus contribute and support farmers in increasing agricultural productivity.
Beekeeping training will include topics such as improvement of bees and the usage of artificial insemination; identification and treatment of disease; managing beehive pests; production of supplementary bee products; handling of beeswax and wax production; utilization of bees for the production of pollen; and advanced technologies in beehive migration and extraction tools. With the project now fully underway, Tag will work closely with government officials and local civil society to promote and improve beekeeping in the country.