Modern beehives pave the way for more sustainable honey production in Bossangoa. Photo: Action Against Hunger, Central African Republic.
Behind Philippe Modompte’s home in Bossangoa, the silence is broken by the hum of bees hard at work producing the sought-after Bossangoa honey so valued in the region. Philippe and his family settled in a quiet part of this town in the northwest of the Central African Republic to dedicate themselves to the art and science of beekeeping, producing high-quality honey from their modern and improved traditional beehives.
“At the beginning, we were beekeepers working on our own, which was not very successful,” says Philippe. “Then we had the idea almost a year ago to come together as a cooperative in order to move forward. Personally, I am a technician. Now my whole family works in honey.”
When Action Against Hunger began supporting the development of the beekeeping sector as part of the Bêkou Rural Resilience Project, Philippe was quickly identified by his peers as a technical expert in honey production. This project, funded by the European Union’s multi-donor Bêkou Trust Fund along with the French Development Agency’s Confluences project, made it possible for Phillipe to share his technical expertise with new members of the Ouham Beekeepers Cooperative (CAPICO), a group of Bossangoa honey producers.
“Action Against Hunger has supported us in the creation of village savings and loans associations, training of beekeepers and through the provision of equipment,” says Philippe.
This technical, material and organizational support has allowed the beekeepers to develop their businesses while integrating more environmentally sustainable practices.
A MOVE TOWARD MORE SUSTAINABLE BEEKEEPING
Since the first session a little over a year ago, Phillippe has gone on to train approximately one third of the 47 CAPICO beekeeper groups, and the remaining groups are eager to be trained as well. The Beekeepers Cooperative has started a process of modernization to move away from their traditional harvest practices, in which the hives are destroyed and the bees killed, to a method using modern hives where the bees are subdued using a smoker while the honey is harvested.
These new techniques align with the agroecological approach promoted by Action Against Hunger, which takes into account the environmental, economic and social impacts of food systems development. Importantly, these new techniques in no way diminish the quality of the honey produced. On the contrary, the training helped the CAPICO beekeeper groups supported by our teams take second prize at the first National Beekeeping Fair held at the Ministry of Livestock and Animal Health last year.
This success inspired the beekeepers of the Central African Republic to make an official trip to participate in the World Food Day exhibition in Bossangoa in November, where CAPICO exhibited its quality honey to the President of the Republic.
The experience has left Philippe full of optimism for the future. “We have opened up our prospects for opportunities here in Bangui by establishing contacts with visitors to the fair and visiting other markets,” he says. “And why not aim for export too!”
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