Somalia is in the Horn of Africa in North East Africa, the cradle of the craft of beekeeping.
This beekeeping study was commissioned by Horn Relief (HR) an African-led international development and humanitarian organisation which has worked to improve the conditions of those living in marginalised areas in the Horn of Africa since 1991. (Horn Relief has since been rebranded to ADESO – http://adesoafrica.org/.) The study, conducted in late 2007/early 2008, was undertaken by the African Beekeeping Resource Centre (ABRC).
This assignment was to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the honey sub-sector in Sanaag region in Somalia, particularly to identify gaps that exist in technical training, relevant infrastructure, human capacity and business development, and to produce recommendations for increasing capacity, overcoming market production challenges and increasing communities’ market linkages with inland, rural and international markets.
This assignment was conducted by ABRC consultants William Keyah and Tom Carroll through a detailed field study of the beekeeping sector in Sanaag region (from production to marketing), supported by desk research. A comprehensive report was submitted to the client.
In total 27 women and 38 men were interviewed. 70% practiced beekeeping (in terms of production, consumption and trading), and 6% were honey traders. The remaining 24% consisted of key informants, administrators and potential beekeepers. The study appears to provide the first documented information on the beekeeping sub-sector in the Sanaag region.
The study’s key findings indicate:
- There are excellent opportunities for improving the local beekeeping sub-sector, and enhancing the livelihoods of local people and creating employment for both men and women in Sanaag.
- Production of honey in Sanaag is through a combination of honey hunting and beekeeping using simple hives such as a fixed comb box hives and top-bar hives. Beekeeping is still relatively new to the area.
- Women are actively involved in beekeeping in the area.
- Absconding bees and low hive occupation rates are major problems. This is likely to be caused by hot dry conditions and inadequate shade and water for bees.
- Demand for honey is greater than supply. Local market prices are very high (compared to other African countries) with beekeepers earning between 5-10 US dollars per kilogram. (Typical Kenyan honey prices are ???.)
- Honey is used for medicinal purposes and also has religious significance. (The use of honey is mentioned in the holy Koran.)
- Export market opportunities exist for honey in the Middle East, particularly Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
The key recommendations of the study are:
- Build a locally appropriate style of beekeeping based on local knowledge and the need for addressing local constraints. This requires a learning-approach.
- Strengthen the capacity of honey sector stakeholders including existing beekeepers, beginning beekeepers, honey hunters, traders, honey processors and artisans making beekeeping equipment.
- Develop a cadre of beekeeping trainers.
- Provide capacity building support for value-adding, product development and marketing.
- Emphasise the importance of bees as an entry point to environmental conservation.