In Uzbekistan, beekeeping benefits communities and the environmentMar 30, 2015
Kuralbay Nugmanov, an entrepreneur and farmer in Karakalpakstan, north of Uzbekistan, says his community is much better off since they installed bee hives. “This year we got much better fruits and vegetables, as compared to last year. We believe that this is thanks to our bees,” he says.
In Karakalpakstan, the Aral Sea disaster left many residents without an income. When the Sea started drying up, so did the fishermen and farmers’ jobs. Unemployment was high in the region, forcing many to relocate.
Launched in 2012, the joint UN Aral Sea Programme, carried out by UNDP with other UN agencies and government partners, seeks to create new income opportunities for rural communities affected by this man-made environmental crisis.
With a minimal cost for registration, beekeeping is relatively inexpensive to establish and results in a product that is always in demand.
“The bees can be both a main and an additional income source for families. Having access to naturally-produced honey is a great motivation,” Nugmanov says.
One of the first entrepreneurs to establish a beekeeping enterprise in his district, Nugmanov attended a UNDP-supported seminar where he learned how to run a sustainable business, and received bee hives to get a demonstration plot started.
“When I started I had 5 bee hives with necessary equipment, now I’m confident I can expand my business to up to 20- 30 hives in the coming year,” he says. With his savings, he plans to replace his older house with a new one, and pay for his children’s tuition. Honey also serves as an important dietary supplement for his family.
With support from the Programme and the Government of Uzbekistan, 48 beekeeping demonstration plots like Nugmanov’s have been established in the Amudarya district, and more than 210 bee hives delivered to budding entrepreneurs. Each business brings an estimated income of up to US $935 each year.
The project also aims to create a network of agro-consultants to promote improved agricultural practices among rural populations.
“Many local farmers are interested in starting this type of business, after they see the results of my work,” says Nugmanov, who personally organised 11 workshops and seminars with neighbouring farms.
“Beekeeping has small challenges, but it is manageable and pays off in the end. I am always ready to share my knowledge with anyone who wants to run a bee-keeping business. I’m also a member of an association of bee-keepers, through which I can exchange information and knowledge with others,” he says.
Over 50 percent of the local farmers trained by Nugmanov, half of them women, have gone on to establish either exclusive bee-keeping enterprises, or have supplemented their farms with honey-bees.
The UN Aral Sea Programme helps address the economic, health and food needs of more than 130,000 people directly affected by the environmental crisis, while other community development plans, such as the provision of basic infrastructure, improved social services and healthcare, benefit almost 500,000 people indirectly.