Time to harvest the honey
The improvement of the security situation in Daraa Governorate has allowed thousands of displaced families to return to their home. However, it has not been an easy return for the families who lost their income, resources or their breadwinners. Many returnees are women and people with disabilities who are among the most vulnerable people in the area.
Five years ago, more than 25,000 people left their quite village called (Kherbet Ghazal), a 30 km away from Daraa city, to escape from the insecure situation. Fatima Abdul Raheem and her three young children have returned to the village to live in one room made of concrete. Her husband, the only breadwinner for the family, passed away during the years of crisis. “We went through difficult times during the crisis, I lost my husband from an explosion and became the only breadwinner for my three children, the oldest is a 9-year-old child and the youngest is only 5, they cannot do anything to support,” said Fatima.
Prior to the crisis, these returnees had been involved in vegetable production, small livestock (sheep and goats) and beekeeping; on their return, they had find a livelihood opportunity to secure their income and food sources. With Fatima’s limited previous experience in beekeeping, and with the support of some of the expert beekeepers in the village, she received a beekeeping kit from FAO to produce honey and make an income by selling her products. She teamed up with other expert and beginner beekeepers to efficiency generate honey in terms of cost and quantity.
The community, with the supervision of FAO’s implementing partner, the Arab Beekeeping Union, has created the Honey Producers Committee to guarantee the honey’s quality standards by sending samples to laboratories for testing, and to launch promotion links with surrounding markets. “I felt glad and hopeful when I received my three beehives from FAO, I can start to rebuild my life again with some technical support from the producers’ committee,” said Fatima grateful for the encouragement to stand on her feet again.
“Beekeeping is producing good results – I am expecting 10 Kg of honey at least from each beehive this season. Although I will still need some support to become financially independent, I promised myself to work hard to expand my beekeeping and try to scale-up my income,” she added.
FAO and the Department of International Development - DFID - are keen to improve the rural families’ production capacity by providing sustainable access to inputs, besides creating rural employment opportunities that target vulnerable farmers, women, youth and people with disabilities. FAO is reaching 500 beekeepers in Hama, Homs, As-Sweida, Qunaitra and Daraa governorates with beehives, protective clothes, queen bees, beekeeping equipment and honey extractors to ease the honey harvesting process.
“Beekeeping and other income-generating activities can be a source of income for vulnerable families in rural areas,” said Mike Robson, FAO’s Representative in the Syrian Arab Republic. “We are working with our partners to help people get back on their feet after the crisis. In addition, we try to bring people together to exchange production knowledge and techniques – this provides an additional benefit at the community level, helping to encourage trust and social cohesion,” Mike added.