Human Appeal started working in Kashmir after the devastating earthquake of 2005. With its impact and severity no doubt intensified by human-induced climate change, this massive disaster highlighted the vulnerability of remote communities. The importance of local and environmentally-focussed sustainability projects was never more obvious. This project highlights the delicate ecosystems of the natural world with the importance of locally-driven sustainable projects when facing an ongoing climate crisis.
Honeybee farming occurs quite commonly in parts of the Himalayas and in Kashmir, where bees are conventionally kept in wall hives and the honey used for household consumption. Following the earthquake and the construction of new homes, the tradition of wall hives was discontinued. However, we recognized a unique opportunity to leverage the indigenous knowledge of bee keeping to create economic opportunity.
We developed a honeybee farming project that would reinstate the region’s biodiversity but also give local communities a sustainable livelihood.
In 2009, we launched our very first honeybee project, working with the honeybee species Apis cerana in District Bagh, Kashmir. This particular species of bee is actually wild and initially posed a technical challenge because no history was available in the region on keeping these bees in colonies. We began that year with ten farmers, and seven of them were successful in keeping bees in colonies.
Farmers receive training to manage the honeybee species as well as tools and four hives each. Even after farmers are successfully maintaining their colonies, they continue to have access to their trainer for as long as they need after the initial workshops – even for many years after. In just a few years, honeybee farmers can triple their production to 12-15 hives. For some of our farmers, they’ve gone on to managing more than 40 hives after 5 years with our programme.
Because of the expert training we provide, and our commitment to preserving indigenous knowledge, a booming cottage industry has developed in the surrounding areas of District Bagh, where honey production and the necessary tools and equipment are now all locally made.
Farmers, their families and their communities are enjoying improved lives, increased income and educational opportunities as well as economic and environmental restoration.
We’ve raised the profile of farming in the area by forming links with local universities, whose students are now researching the local bee species.
Our honeybee farming initiative continues to grow, expanding to other areas in Pakistan. To date, we’ve trained 843 farmers of whom 14% are women.
In the last 10 years farmers have raised 3,372 hives, yielding 95,000 kg of honey. Since the start of the project in 2009, farmers have sold £1.5 million worth of honey We’ve supported 843 farmers (729 men and 114 women) and developed a training manual on Apis Cerana to share the knowledge. Every year, we organise a honey exhibition at state level to inspire other farmers and showcase our farmers' products. Participating farmers have earned enough income to build their own homes, send their children to universities and improve their financial security.
Now honeybee farming is emerging as a developing industry in the area so that farmers no longer have to purchase hives and other supplies from the market in Islamabad. Because of the growth of honeybee farming, hives and other goods are all being produced locally.
As the success of this initiative spreads, we train more farmers on by-products of honeybee farming to maximise the benefit. We also collaborate with academics for student training and research. For example, we recently organised honeybee farming training for over 100 students of the zoology department of Azad Jammu and Kashmir University. As a result of training, many students are conducting graduate studies on Apis cerana.
Honeybee farms, cultivating sustainable opportunities so your mercy thrives
We’re on the ground in hard-to-reach places to identify and serve the needs of vulnerable people. At the beginning of the honeybee project, the search for a local trainer was a point of concern for us. Though it took some time, we eventually found the right local and experienced person for additional skills training.
We’re hands-on when we deliver and administer the aid so that we can validate that your mercy goes precisely where it’s intended, exactly as it’s intended. Our operational expertise gives us a global advantage in using our experienced teams to bring relief where it’s most needed. We provide training and in-kind support on the honeybee species, Apis cerana. With indigenous knowledge and experience, we have developed a unique model of farming for Apis cerana in Kashmir.
We’re careful stewards of your mercy to ensure our operations are efficient, accountable and transparent. We provide support in conducting training, follow-ups and monitoring of the project. Alongside that, after training, Human Appeal provide year-long consultancy services to the trainees through our trainer for technical assistance. Additionally, with your mercy, an annual honeybee exhibition is organised at the district level to showcase the success of our farmers. We also safeguard the vulnerable communities we support with rigorous protection policies and procedures.
We are innovative so that your mercy improves lives on for generations to come. Your mercy is what creates a safe, lasting and sustainable impact. Each farmer receives comprehensive practical and theoretical training on farming equipment, hive management, the prevention of pests, opening new hives, as well as honey quality and extraction.
We introduce advanced techniques to our farmers, which preserve and contribute to the environment, and also teach them to use the by-products of the process to yield more profit. At regular intervals we have been strengthening our honeybee farming model by introducing more advanced techniques to our farmers. In 2018 we collaborated with the National Honeybee Research Centre (NARC) and organised advanced training for 30 farmers on value-added products of the honeybee.
Human Appeal ensures that your mercy brings immediate relief and endures for the long term to break the cycle of poverty.
I joined Human Appeal in 2009.
As the Livelihood Programme Manager it’s my responsibility to empower families with the skills, tools and support for a sustainable livelihood and income, so that they become self- reliant and can improve their lives. My team and I are involved every step of the way, from identifying which people would benefit most from which project, to implementing the project and assessing the results.
To succeed at honeybee farming, quality training is very important. If farmers lack experience in bee management, their efforts will fail, and they might easily lose all their bees. Entire hives can be wiped out in a matter of hours if there is an outbreak of disease or pest attack. Training is essential to know how to respond if bees ever attack as their sting can be lethal. Our training ensures honeybee farmers succeed and achieve a profitable livelihood. Even years after the training, farmers can access support services from the trainer, including how to manage disease outbreak, insect attacks, honey extraction and extension of their honeybee hives.
Now, after more than 12 years of honeybee farming, District Bagh is famed for its honey. In fact the region has shaped itself into a cottage industry for honey production and equipment making. For start-up honeybee farms, all required materials can be obtained locally.
Honeybee farming has improved people's lives in remarkable ways. Families can finally own assets like vehicles; some are constructing or expanding their houses; and some are sending their children to colleges and universities. Before this intervention, none of that was possible. Through honeybee farming, some enterprising farmers have opened up consultancies in other parts of Kashmir for those interested in this kind of farming.
We’ve also joined with universities and the Honey Bee Research Institute (HBRI) to expand the project. While working with HBRI, farmers also trained to make by-products with bees. This includes in-demand cosmetic goods, candle-making and collecting royal jelly and pollen - which can all provide an additional source of income during off season periods for our farmers. Additionally, we are working with Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University Multan to launch honeybee farming in District Tharparkar, Sindh, Pakistan. However, in Tharparkar, temperatures can get so hot (50oc) that wax melts, making it impossible for bees to survive in such extreme heat.
To ensure a successful launch of honeybee farming there, we are in the process of designing a hive that can maintain an optimal temperature, despite the heat.
We maintain the cost-effectiveness in a few ways. Firstly, we help people develop professional skills to participate in the local economy. Secondly, through our quality training programmes, we help farmers remain efficient and maximise their resources. And thirdly, because farmers sell their goods directly to the public, they are continuously striving to maintain healthy business reputations and satisfied customers. Moreover, the honeybee association monitors honey quality through training and customer feedback.
“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.”Source - Tirmidhi
My name is Shaukat Abbasi, and I live in Sinjar Bathara in District Bagh with my wife and seven children.
In order to earn a living and support my family, I went to Lahore in search of work and got a job at a local restaurant, but my income there was not sufficient. I could not provide for my children at that time. Even the house we lived in did not protect us from the rainwater or the snow in winter. If I had continued working in that restaurant, I would not have been able to get my children an education or even get them married. Life would have been very different and challenging compared to what we have now.
When I returned from Lahore, I met a guy named Rashid Gul, and he told me about honeybee farming and the training conducted by Human Appeal.
I received a three-day training course and I was taught the whole method of Honey Bee-keeping and its benefits. Before the training, I had never seen honeybee farming, nor did I know anything about it. After I started honeybee farming, my income grew exponentially, and I got my children an education. With the money from selling honey, I went on to learn the skill of plumbing and started working as a plumber alongside honeybee farming. My life got much better than before.
At this point, I have a total of eight hives from which I extract honey which produces around 60 kilograms. To date, I have earned around 2.5 million to 3 million rupees from honeybee farming.
The people who support Human Appeal in this project, I am very thankful to them. This initiative of Human Appeal is excellent and they should continue with this project as it increases income significantly and many people are enjoying doing this.
With their help, many people are benefiting from it and getting a source of livelihood. People are now more inclined towards honeybee farming and this has also increased their incomes.