Beekeeping is an important, sustainable and alternative source of income in rural areas, benefiting communities living in and around forests. Beekeeping can also be a practical tool for raising the awareness of these communities to the importance of good management of their forests and for stimulating their sensibility for conservation, and for improving biodiversity. For the households of rural Ethiopia, beekeeping is a promising off-farm activity and contributes to the income of the farmers and the economy of the nation.
Despite the long tradition of beekeeping practices by rural farmers and owing the highest bee density in Ethiopia the share of the sub-sector in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has never been commensurate. Investigation indicated that the number of honey-bee colonies in the country has been declining and consequently the honey and beeswax production as well and export earnings fell down. This is attributed to drought, ever-expanding population pressure, and associated vegetation changes. Beekeeping is an environmentally sustainable activity that can be integrated with agricultural practices like crop production, animal husbandry, horticultural crops and conservation of natural resources. The contributions of beekeeping to poverty reduction, sustainable development and conservation of natural resources, especially tree species has been well recognized and emphasized by the government of Ethiopia and non-governmental organisations.
by Tariku Olana Jawo, Ethiopia