A seven-day training of lead farmers on beekeeping was organized from 5 -11 January 2017 with the main objective of supporting locals in Baganbari, an AdaptHimal pilot site in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is supporting beekeeping as an enterprise for the enhancement of resilient livelihoods in Baganbari. It is working in collaboration with the Khagrachari Hill Development Council (KHDC) under the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA).
The region is rich in floral resources, and offers potential for the production of high quality Apis cerana (Asiatic honeybee) honey. Honey collected from a variety of plant sources in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is in great demand, and at BDT 1,000 per kg, good quality Apis cerana honey fetches a much higher price than Apis mellifera (European honeybee) honey which sells for BDT 350-400.
The aim of the training was to develop a pool of model beekeeping entrepreneurs and local resource persons by building the capacities of concerned staff at partner organization KHDC who will provide technical support to farmers in the village. The main objective was to support the development of a community-based beekeeping enterprise as an alternative livelihood option for rural communities by developing knowledge and skills related to bee management, and the processing and value addition of honey and beeswax.
Twenty-five farmers including 13 women were selected with the help of a local NGO. They came from Baganbari and five other surrounding paras (villages). Besides, two field staff from KHDC also participated in the training. The participants were all new to beekeeping, but took a keen interest in it. Md Abdul Alim Bhuyian, an experienced trainer, beekeeper, and successful honey trader from Dhaka, and Uma Partap, an agriculture and beekeeping specialist at ICIMOD, facilitated the training. The programme was formally inaugurated by the chairperson of KHDC, Kongjari Choudhury.
Both facilitators used lectures, power point presentations, videos, group discussions, hands-on practical exercises, and exposure visits and experience sharing as training tools. The training also included a one-day visit to an apiary and bee based enterprise run by Sumon Chakma in Dakhan, Khubung Puria, a para on the outskirts of Khagrachari. The experience gave the participants the opportunity to see, interact with, and learn about bee-based enterprises.
The topics covered over the course of the training included bee management using movable-frame beehives; colony inspection, cleaning, and feeding; seasonal bee management; uniting and dividing colonies; the management and control of swarming, absconding, robbing and laying workers; the management and control of bee diseases, pests and predators; bee flora and pollination services provided by honeybees to crops and natural flora; and the harvesting, processing, value addition and quality management of honey and beeswax.
For AdaptHimal, the next steps include organizing farmers in groups, providing beehives and other beekeeping equipment, helping them establish apiaries, giving them enterprise development training related to honey processing, packaging and branding, and linking farmers and beekeepers to the market.