Pacific Islands Beekeeping for Local Rural Women
Barefoot College International is working with Pacific Island partners on local beekeeping and honey production. Papua New Guinea’s Helping Hand Honey Producers and Fiji Beekeepers Association work with us in the region.
In the villages of Elgem, Gapina, Popun, Kuipun and Panjin, Mount Hagen District, Western Highlands Province, the selection and training of women (including 4 Solar Mamas and 2 other community members) were completed in February 2021.
The delivery of beehives and equipment was planned for mid-April 2021 but was delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent restrictions. Now in the next stages, after persistent pandemic and weather challenges, 30 beehives were delivered to women in these regions in April 2022.
Fiji and Papua New Guinea have seen successful training completion and honey harvesting this year that we’re excited to see progress. Honey production and sales are lucrative sources of income for rural Pacific women. It’s minimally demanding on their time and energy and can be a valuable livelihood. Our women trainees can expect to sell their honey at USD $8.00 per Kg. The honey harvested is local and naturally produced; a highly coveted product in the market.
Papua New Guinea Updates
The journey to the remote Pacific mountainous highlands region of Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea often takes longer than expected with bad road conditions. In fact, in Papua New Guinea, people often have to travel by air or sea due to the lack of accessibility by road through dense lush rainforest and rugged terrain.
Nonetheless, the ground partner will visit these villages frequently to follow up with the women. There will be 16 mentoring visits in the women’s villages over a period of 2 years. The women are continuously learning through this strong follow-up support program offering support as needed, to build their confidence and skill sets as they go.
Jiwaka and Hagen beneficiaries also received honey extractor manuals, 6 smoker hive tools and protective veils. Pacific lifestyles can be harsh with such natural disaster risks, but beekeeping can operate safely when done with care. This means that livelihoods and autonomy remain more secure in the event of extreme weather conditions.
Cathy, Pake and Anna were very excited to receive their new beehives. Watch their expressions and gratitude for our Barefoot College International team in this video:
Ground partners Josh, Saimone and Chuck of the Fiji Beekeepers Association visited the women in Nubu on Friday 21st April for their last mentoring module. They managed to visit the apiaries with 5 women present. Time was spent reiterating when to double and when to split. Thankfully, there were no cyclones in the region yet this year and the team was pleased to see that the hives are producing honey and the ladies expect a good harvest this year.
More guidance and support were given during the visit. Most of the rainy periods were spent on a verandah, where discussion sessions took place. Gained information during discussion time will be very valuable in consideration of future projects of this sort. It helps with reporting as well, so progress and challenges can be better understood.
The women organized themselves into a semi-formal harvesting group they call the “Sunshine Mamas”. The group contains a President and Treasurer. They collectively decide on rules to be put in place for the use of the Honey Hut, where harvesting logistics take place. They can also strategize more effectively together, where they develop thoughtful insights:
1. Do more inspections and focus on controlling the empty space available to the bees
2. Complete harvesting for this year
3. Commence feeding sugar over the wet season
4. Each lady should do at least one split
5. Each lady should try to provide/fund one new beehive on their own
The 6 women selected are coming from Pacific communities (Nabutubutu, Navukebule and Nubu villages) located in the surroundings of the Barefoot Vocational Training Center currently under construction in Nadogo District, Macuata Province in the north. Two of the women are also Barefoot Solar Mamas.
They have become confident in their activities. We aim to involve the most interested Pacific women to spearhead beekeeping projects for the new Fiji Barefoot Vocational Training Center. The Fiji Barefoot College is due to open in October 2022.
Want to be part of the change?
You can support our beekeeping initiatives with rural women in the Pacific Islands here.