Helping farmers and injecting new life into South Sudan’s honey sector
Decades of civil war devastated Sudan’s honey sector, once Africa’s second biggest. Now, South Sudan, independent since July 2011 as an outcome of the end of the civil war, is breathing new life into its own honey sector.
With vast equatorial forests and a growing number of its smallholder farmers receiving training, South Sudan is starting to increase honey production, with the potential long term promise of becoming a bigger player in the USD 12 billion world honey market, according to Honey Care Africa (HCA).
Kenya-based HCA, founded in 2000, is a World Fair Trade Organization company focused on providing opportunities in East Africa for rural, smallholder households to generate income through honey production.
“There is tremendous opportunity for a vibrant honey industry and to help smallholder farmers in South Sudan. The country’s natural forests offer hospitable conditions for bees and there is great potential to improve methods and quality throughout the honey supply chain,” said Honey Care Africa Chairman and Chief Executive Madison Ayer.
HCA has started equipping and training smallholder farmers in beekeeping and honey production in South Sudan, with the goal of enrolling 35,000 farmers by 2017 in HCA’s program and reaching 200,000 lives.
Nestlé CSV award winner
Honey Care Africa was earlier this month awarded Nestlé’s 2014 Creating Shared Value Prize for its work helping smallholder honey producers in East Africa. The award is given to innovative businesses that create value with the communities they operate in by addressing issues of nutrition, water or rural development.
The award comes with prize funding of CHF 200,000 that will help HCA ensure it has sufficient resources to implement its program in South Sudan. “This is an important source of funding, which together with other financial resources, will help HCA expand our sustainable supply chain in the country,” said Mr. Ayer.
HCA has already provided over 15,000 smallholders, largely in Kenya, with 40,000 beehives and the skills and know-how to generate sustainable incomes from honey production.
Farmers are often provided a micro-loan to buy modern Langstroth beehives, and are trained and supported to develop their honey production. HCA works with a variety of partners, including Kiva, Grameen Foundation, and a number of universities around the world.
Income and honey nutrition
Honey Care Africa gives the farmers a guaranteed market for their honey at fair trade prices. A family can earn about USD 50 annually from each beehive they manage – enough to pay for school fees, malaria treatments, or new livestock.
HCA collects the honey, which undergoes a number of quality controls before it is marketed in supermarkets and in other retail points in East Africa under HCA’s premium pure Honey Care and Beekeeper’s flavoured brands.
With high malnutrition rates in poorer communities across eastern Africa, honey is a wholesome energy source for undernourished families and supports immune system health. Pure honey is a natural preservative and can be stored for years; an important characteristic for a region where refrigeration is rare. Beekeeping is also a better alternative to other common and more environmentally destructive livelihoods such as charcoal production, which exacerbates deforestation.