Organic RRP honey a sweet success
“We believe that honey is medicine,” says 38-year-old Panuel Lorwue.
And since the RRP introduced modern hives and trained beekeepers on how to safely harvest; this sweet nectar is not only healing bodies, but also the economy of Central Equatoria.
As a young boy Lorwue would follow his older brother as he collected pieces of bamboo and tied them together with local grass. They would leave these traditional hives deep in the forest and come back late at night when they would light a torch and start fires to disturb the bees out of their hives and collect the honey.
“Sometimes we would work through the whole night, says Lorwue. “We would get swarmed by bees and they were very aggressive; we could get stung up to 50 times.”
But since the RRP honey harvesting training programme began in 2006, collecting honey has become much easier and this traditional activity has transformed into a lucrative business.
“I heard from the one of the villagers about a group of people training beekeepers to harvest during the day without using fire, says Lowue. “I was curious to see if this was true or not so I went to find out.”
He saw that honey harvesters were given modern hives and trained how to use slow smoke to cut off the bees communication rather than using a fire to burn the hives. In addition to this they were given and taught how to use protective clothing for honey collecting. Since the training, the collectors have learned how to safely produce clean, pure honey. The modern equipment provided by RRP ensures that the honey meets international standards of quality; and is marketable.
“The honey is very popular around here because of word of mouth,” says Matheu Ndote, an RRP team member, who stands inside a honey collection centre on the side of the road; where there are huge buckets of RRP honey waiting to be purchased.
“Some of this will go to Juba, and some to the Wonduruba market,” he says. “The rest is available to be sold elsewhere.”
Now that they have modern hives to work with they can produce honey often; and the yield is plenty.
“In terms of production there is an extremely high potential,” adds Ndote. “We are looking at international market standards not just local standards. Branding and marketing, these are the steps that are left, to complete the success of this project.”
For Lowue, the success was complete when he saved enough money to send his son to school in Yei. He had wanted to be able to do this for years.
“Honey is a superfood,” he says. “We eat it everyday and now it is doing more than keeping us strong; it is providing our families with income we didn’t have before.”