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Partnership between UNDP and Gandaki Bee Concern Enhances Honey Production and Entrepreneurship in Nepal


By: UNDP Nepal

In Nepal, more than 50,000 households are involved in beekeeping, producing about 1,100 metric tons of honey per year. As a low-cost, high-yielding and high-value enterprise, beekeeping has huge market potential, both domestically and internationally. However, honey production in Nepal is far below the domestic market demand and entrepreneurs are also grappling with meeting the demand of the international market.

To promote the potential of beekeeping in Nepal, the Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) – a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal, the Ministry of Industry (MoI) and UNDP – has entered into a cost-sharing partnership with Gandaki Bee Concern (GBC) Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of Gandaki International Pvt. Ltd. The GBC is the largest honey-based business in Nepal in terms of raw honey production through beekeeping, processing, branding, and marketing, including export. The company also boasts well-qualified and experienced trainers that provide technical services to different organizations, including MEDEP.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between MEDEP and the GBC focused on achieving MEDEP’s 2011 target of creating 215 new beekeepers and providing scale-up support to 260 existing beekeepers. The essence of the MoU is that the GBC agreed to a honey buy-back guarantee for each beekeeper they provide training to, but also allowed for the option that that the entrepreneurs can sell honey in the open market if the market price is higher than that offered by the GBC.

The training courses focus on increasing the production of honey through improved beekeeping techniques, for example, keeping together two different types of bees, the functioning of modern bee hives, the difference between straw beehives and other hives, the use of nectar for producing honey, feeding techniques, pest/disease management, and safer and better ways of honey extraction. The awareness on the benefits of honey to human health was also provided during the training. To date, these trainings have been conducted in Parbat, Salyan, Nawalparasi, Dadeldhura, Dang, Baitadi, Rukum, Rolpa, and Pyuthan districts.

Another cost-sharing area identified and initiated is the organic certification of Chyuri honey produced by beekeepers in the Aalital and Dadeldhura districts. Organic Certification Nepal (OCN) is a registered national company linked to international certification agencies through an alliance called the Certification Alliance (CertAll). The cost-sharing measures are set up in such a way that OCN is subcontracted to provide organic certification, the GBC pays the certification fee and MEDEP bears the remaining costs such as consultants’ fees. The honey produced under the strict supervision of certified inspectors are further certified as “organic honey” which has high value both in terms of healthy food, and high price in the national and international markets.

The GBC has also linked beekeepers of MEDEP’s working areas with other relevant programs including the government’s initiative to support the poor and conflict victims through the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction in partnership with the World Bank. 91 participants have received 90 days of training and will take the examination conducted by National Skills Testing Board (NSTB) under the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), a government entity for certifying trainers. If these participants are successful they will be certified beekeepers as well as certified trainers.

“The technical skill training provided by the GBC helped us prepare a business plan, acquire beehives, quality testing and packaging machines and, most important of all, we received basic knowledge and information on beekeeping prior to starting the enterprise,” said Mr. Indra Singh Bista, one of the beekeepers from Shree Kedar VDC in Baitadi district.

Likewise, Mr. Dhananjaya Acharya, Chair of Laharemi Agriculture Cooperative and a beekeeping entrepreneur from Rampur VDC in Dang district said, “The partnership with the GBC on a cost-sharing basis has become beneficial for us in terms of knowledge and equipment support which has enhanced the quality and increased the quantity of honey production.”

Mr. Dev Bahadur Gurung, Executive Director of Gandaki International, a holding company of the GBC said, “We are happy to be a partner of MEDEP and UNDP in reducing rural poverty through improved techniques of beekeeping. The organization has a good name.” He also suggested adopting an integrated approach for promoting complete value chains and having more interaction between the entrepreneurs and the trade house in order to educate and make them aware through training in order to strengthen and sustain the enterprise. “Beekeeping has a bright future. MEDEP and UNDP has developed a very good model and if we can go for competitive advantage, it will create an image,” he added.

During a meeting held recently in the GBC’s office in Kathmandu, Dev Bahadur Gurung also verbally committed to pay at least 10 rupees more on a kilogram of honey produced by the beekeepers in MEDEP’s working areas. With this commitment, MEDEP entrepreneurs are expected to get a better price for their honey.

For more information, please contact Nabina Shrestha, UNDP.