Wilder Herrera

I took up beekeeping thanks to a training opportunity offered by Cenfrocafe. I really enjoyed it and became very passionate about bees. I decided to take up beekeeping as an additional activity on my farm because I believe in always developing my skills. I started with three bee hives, and after two years had 15 hives. Right now, I have 35 honey-producing hives. Aside from keeping bees, I grow coffee and I am part of the reforestation project here in Cajamarca, Jaén. I keep domestic animals too.

I started with three bee hives, and after two years had 15 hives. Right now, I have 35 honey-producing hives. 

Beekeeping is a short season and high-value business making it a profitable venture for farmers. For one to produce a crop like coffee for example, a farmer needs at least two years. To get honey on the other hand, a well-trained bee farmer needs only 6 months and they can begin to harvest honey.

I invest a lot in beekeeping, and it’s not just because I have a lot of experience as a producer, but because I make sure that I’m always learning. For me, beekeeping is great especially in a place like this where there’s an abundance of flora, it is like a paradise with the potential to produce high quality honey, so what we need is more hives because we can harvest a lot of honey here. 

Beekeeping is great especially in a place like this where there’s an abundance of flora, it is like a paradise with the potential to produce high quality honey… 

I am grateful for the training opportunities I’ve had that continue to help me grow as a farmer. Because of the knowledge I have on bee farming, I know that this is a profitable business for me. I also know that beekeeping compliments other agricultural activities as it helps in pollination and honey has many health and nutritional benefits. Beekeeping provides a lot of benefits. Bees have a very important role in pollinating the flowers that already exist and I’ve learned that while honey is produced all over the world, there’s a great diversity of flowering plants which provide nectar and pollen for bees. Apart from honey, there are other beehive products that bee farmers harvest. I produce honey, wax, pollen, propolis, jelly and apitoxin – which is the poison of bees that are used in countries like Korea and China.

 

Through training from the Universidad Agraria La Molina in Lima and by working with the Peru Inka industry,  I have learned how tomake my own branded products from honey and other beehive products like facial cream, soaps and shampoos. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. As chairman of my local organisation, I am working on a project that runs until the end of 2022 and together with my cooperative, we are working to expand into international markets in the middle east. Our plan is to see beekeepers in the Cajamarca region sell their honey to international markets.

Our plan is to see beekeepers in the Cajamarca region sell their honey to international markets…

Bees may be small creatures, but they play a very important role. As a beekeeper, one needs to dedicate their time and be passionate about this business, and constantly attend training sessions to learn more about bee farming and to develop skills in this industry. I think it is important to leave something for our children and grandchildren. If God gives us life, it is important to live in harmony with nature. We’ve all experienced the sudden climatic changes all over the world, and I believe with reforestation and beekeeping we can play a part in contributing to protecting our land and our planet. I encourage other farmers to try bee farming, because it is a profitable business that also contributes to environmental protection. 

Working with Farmers to Increase their Incomes Through Beekeeping

“ I attended beekeeping training at the Sireet Centre of Excellence (COE) office and after that training, another team of farmers came to teach us more about beekeeping. From these training sessions, I learned more about beekeeping and how to get a market for honey and other farm products.”

At Producers Direct, we understand that agriculture is a key contributor to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and we work with them to support ownership of key crop value chains and on-farm diversification into multiple crops as a key way to increase incomes. By growing multiple additional crops and products, in addition to the main cash crop, there’s potential for farmers to earn more and grow their incomes.

We’ve seen first-hand the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise which exists in underserved rural farming communities. Our model and approach focuses on creating opportunities for smallholders to share, build upon and strengthen this knowledge and expertise. Using our farmer-led COEs, smallholder farmers  are learning how to implement new and innovative farming techniques  through peer to peer training to transform their farms into sustainable businesses. 

One of the ways our farmers are diversifying is through beekeeping. This is a fairly manageable venture that farmers can add around their farm households, it is flexible and does not require as much tendering as keeping livestock and other crops. Additionally, beekeeping fits well into smallholder farming systems because it does not take up a lot of space, does not rely on other factors like soil fertility or compete with other resources needed by crops and livestock, making it a suitable venture even for young people. 

With this in mind, Producers Direct has introduced modern beekeeping through training and recruitment of bee farmers across East Africa  and Peru, to enable them to set up bee hives, produce and sell honey. Using our four-part, farmer-led support services, farmers are given training on beekeeping, and training on the importance of documenting farm records and how they can make use of the data to make better beekeeping decisions. Farmers then receive funding in form of beehives and equipment needed to launch their honey enterprises. Bee farmers then work with our network of youth coordinators who create links to local markets where farmers can sell their honey. 

 

Through the four main components of our model, we support farmers to start their businesses, earn additional incomes and share their expertise with other farmers. “In one of the training sessions, we got loans in the form of bee hives to help us set up our beekeeping businesses. This was helpful because we are now able to put our training to practical use.“ Our bee farmers in Uganda and Tanzania have, to date, received 986 Langstroth bee hives and 60 complete kits of protective honey harvesting gear. 

“In one of the training sessions, we got loans in the form of bee hives to help us set up our beekeeping  businesses. This was helpful because we are now able to put our training to practical use.”

 

Alongside our work with farmers, we are creating a farmer-owned brand of honey. By purchasing Producers Direct honey, hundreds more smallholder farms will become sustainable businesses. This honey is currently on sale in Kenya with plans to scale out across our network. 

Beekeeping has the potential to supplement or enhance the incomes of our smallholder farmers  across East Africa and Peru, adding an additional $29 a month (over 50% increase for farmers earning $1.35 a day), according to our research. Our goal is to continue to work together with farmers to sustain this growth, support their beekeeping enterprises by providing them with finance and linking them with markets where they can sell their honey and in future, other bee hive products.