Modern beekeeping transforming women’s economic earning

Ethiopia is a country encounters significant unemployment that affects young people and women, but the government has been undertaking activities that reduce unemployment working with various national and international development actors.

To address unemployment challenges, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, other several public and private sector partners embarked a programme titled “More Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey (MOYESH)’’. The goal of the programme is to “secure dignified and fulfilling direct employment and income for 100,000 unemployed Ethiopian youth, of which 60 percent are women” through provision of appropriate knowledge and skills and enabling them to establish beekeeping and sericulture business enterprises.

In fact Women’s role for inclusive development is unquestionable but women empowerment is a key for change and development. Historically, women’s work is considered as homework but this was misrepresenting and undermining women role and potential to contribute their share for the country’s socio-economic development.

But women are making this trend history. This article contained and will going to narrate about women-only Youth Beekeepers enterprises that are successful undertaking beekeeping business in Amhara region. The has approached to assess this Women-only Youth Beekeepers’ Enterprise performance which is assisted by icipe under MOYESH programme.

Tigist, Asressie, Alemitu and their friends’ youth beekeepers enterprise is a women-only youth Beekeepers’ Enterprise found in Shenkurta village of Guagusa Shekudad district of the Amhara Region. It is kind of enterprises also enrolled experienced women beekeepers to help them in mentoring and technical guidance.

Unlike most youth beekeepers’ enterprises, the chairperson of this enterprise is a woman, and the members are engaged in every activity, including honeybee colony transfer, honey harvesting and beehive inspection.

The MOYESH programme established such enterprises to empower women economically and promote women’s active participation in beekeeping business by designing socially and culturally acceptable strategies for engaging the women youth partners.

Accordingly, the women’s only group developed confidence that women could run business and escape from poverty. Currently, the enterprise owns 53 beehives (30 frame hives, 16 transitional hives, and 7 traditional hives) occupied with bee colonies. The transitional beehives were made by enterprise members themselves.

The gender barrier has laid bare the fault lines of inequality between women and men beekeepers. In Ethiopia, the familiar norms regarding division of agricultural work amongst family members brought into sharp focus associated income inequality between women and men.

These norms disproportionately impacted the income that women can earn. It is with clear intent of narrowing this gender-based inequality that MOYESH Programme set out to engage 60 percent and more women youth beekeepers.

Tremendous changes observed in the youth’s life after enrolling in the programme. Alemitu Fentie said, “We started from scratch. Before the introduction of this programme, we were spending our precious time supporting our families in preparing foods, fetching water from far distance, taking care of children and livestock.

But now, the enterprises engaged in other complementary farming businesses besides beekeeping she said adding when we got around 32kg of honey during the first harvest, we felt like a miracle had happened in our lives.”

This year, the enterprise planning to harvest around 750kg of honey from 30 frame hives which would generate around ETB 187,000 (USD 3,900) in one season she said adding the strong technical and input support from the MOYESH and the business plan they developed are the main driving force for our success.

Alemitu added, “Following the colony multiplication training, we are highly devoting our time specializing in honeybee colony multiplication to be a trail-blazer in the area by demonstrating this business to the community.” Acknowledging icipe and the Mastercard Foundation for the assist and support the enterprises said that “we are succeeding in moving from zero to economic hero.”

The motto of the enterprise is this – Let’s work hard to have a better life for tomorrow. It really reflects their commitment and aspiration. The enterprise members also rehabilitated the sloppy land provided by the Kebele administration and made a bench terrace for planting bee forage and placing the hives on the benches.

Besides, Tigist and her team are planning to include additional bee forage of osmium, potato, tree Lucerne and other perennial plants by applying irrigation to strengthen the bee colony, and at the same time diversify their business to earn better income. These complementary businesses are also useful to maintain environmental health.

MOYESH is a five-year programme (October 2019- September 2024) implemented by icipe in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, and several private and public sector actors.


The Ethiopian March 6/2022

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