Beekeeping can help rebuild lives in Syria
Story by Hussam Al Saleh
A community-based initiative in Syria aims to revitalize a beekeeping industry that has been partially destroyed by over five years of civil war. Hives and bees will be provided to 700 beekeepers in rural Damascus, Homs, Hama, Tartous and Latakia, with a special focus on women.
The six-month project is being run by the World Food Programme and the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Agriculture. It will assist 3,500 people in total, including those working in related fields such as cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals, where honey, wax and royal jelly are in demand.
Beekeeping has a long tradition in Syria, providing employment, income and economic security for people in rural areas. It is especially suitable for women who need to carry out work close to their homes, for cultural, security, family or other reasons.
It also involves very little capital investment as no complex technologies are needed. However, civil war has seen colonies destroyed or neglected, with a decrease of 86 percent in the governorates of rural Damascus, Lattakia and Hama since 2011.
The aim now is to re-establish a profitable and self-sustaining industry, in order to support the local economy and build rural livelihoods. Beekeepers will also be provided with medication, sugar and candy needed to sustain the bees during winter, as well as honey extractors and other equipment.
WFP will also provide a monthly food ration during the six months, to help families left food-insecure by years of conflict.
Beekeeping associations will be created in each of the five governorates, connected to the national association, and technical guidelines will be developed for beekeeping and honey processing.
The project is part of WFP’s wider efforts to improve livelihoods for 500,000 people affected by the conflict in Syria, working in partnership with its partners.
Other activities include the redevelopment of land, vegetable and poultry production, and creation of tree nurseries. Training is being provided to support these activities.
WFP’s large operation in Syria also has a direct impact on livelihoods through its packaging and warehouse facilities, which have created 1,500 jobs in four governorates — Damascus, Homs, Tartous and Lattakia.
Additional jobs are generated through transport services, with WFP using at least 3,000 trucks per month.