Kyrgyz honey has become a global brand and needs no introduction. Domestic products have been repeatedly recognized as the best in the world for taste and other important qualities. However, beekeeping in the country is not going through its best times.
Trying to increase production and export volumes, beekeepers and exporters are faced with challenges that range from the heterogeneous and “amateur” approach of beekeepers using various drugs when running their farms to the imperfection of legal regulation of accounting procedures and register of apiaries, which is obstacle to exporting and obtaining quality certificates.
Despite this, interest in beekeeping in Kyrgyzstan continues to grow; many beekeepers have a desire to improve their knowledge and experience, and some want to start their own business in this area. But there is practically no place to get a basic education in this branch of agriculture, in particular in the Osh region. Therefore, UNDP organized trainings on studying the best beekeeping practices, including master classes on breeding bees. In addition, farmers were given the opportunity to undergo training on developing business projects to receive grants.
Sadyr Karybekov is a member of the cooperative "Papan Balchylar ", which unites 32 beekeepers and in Papan district of Osh region. Three of the cooperative members are women. The appearance of women - beekeepers on the ground is not usual for Osh context and the increase of their interest in this field is encouraging.
“All members of our cooperative have received training in beekeeping and improved their skills in producing natural honey. We were trained by specialists from the NGO “Tes Center” through the UNDP project aimed to strengthen the VAC “Natural Honey”. The new knowledge we received made it possible to increase the volume and quality of our honey,” he said.
According to a bee expert Muzaffar Yusupov, many factors influence production volume, however, increasing the knowledge of beekeepers plays a key role in increasing their productivity and income. “In recent years, climate change and drought conditions have been affecting the growth of honey plants native to the area. However, with proper and professional care of bees, obtaining good volumes is still possible. I hope that the knowledge they acquired during the training regarding modern approaches to beekeeping will allow them to improve their farms, expand their apiaries and increase their income,” he says.
The training sessions for beekeepers have provided extensive knowledge on effective beekeeping as it plays a key role in educating them, enhancing their knowledge, and ultimately helping in the decision-making process regarding beekeeping in the region.
The consolidation of theoretical knowledge was carried out at a specially organized demonstration site, equipped with the necessary beekeeping equipment, where experts taught the conditions for keeping bee families, issues of organizing an apiary, the production of beekeeping products and their quality, modern disease prevention and safe measures to combat them, and much more were considered.
In addition to selling honey, beekeepers receive additional income through the sale of bee families. The bee family package consists of 4 frames with worker bees and a queen bee. In the spring, from 1 hive, an experienced beekeeper can receive 3-4 bee packages for sale, the income received can be up to 10,000 KGS (~$112) from one hive. But the insufficient number of bee boxes did not allow the cooperative to expand the production of bee packages.
“The training was comprehensive and included the preparation of grant applications. Our cooperative has applied for a grant to increase the number of bee hives and expand beekeepers' apiaries. The application was supported by UNDP and the cooperative received a grant totaling $1,700. Members of the cooperative were able to increase the production of bee packages and sell them to local beekeepers. We also had the opportunity to participate in honey exhibitions in Uzbekistan in the cities of Tashkent and Namangan, to establish connections for the sale of honey and honey products,” said Sadyr Karybekov, a member of the “Papan Balchylary” cooperative.
Support for beekeepers and honey exporters in increasing their productivity and the competitiveness of natural honey was provided within the framework of the UNDP project “Aid for Trade in Central Asia”, funded by the Government of Finland.