In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty
Overview of Bee Keeping in Chitral District
Beekeeping has been carried out across many generations in Chitral
especially some 20 years back Southern Chitral was the main source
of honey that was used for medicinal purposes. The main reason for
this was that Southern Chitral is comparatively warm then the other
parts of the district, secondly, it is covered by natural forest
that provide natural habitat for bee species and thirdly, flora is
available for 6-8 months. It plays a critical role in the
livelihoods of the rural communities in different ways i.e., one,
it is an income generating activity; two, medicinal value of honey
and other hive products is invaluable; three, it supports
agricultural activities through facilitating critical processes for
example cross pollination and improves crop and seed yield; four,
it facilitates healthy linkages between biodiversity (insects and
plants) towards sustainable livelihoods and it has role in
conservation as well. It is also a low-investment and low-input
enterprise that directly generates economic gains for the
participating members and integrates well with agriculture that
forms the main economic activity for communities living in the
rural areas. Another advantage of bee keeping is that it can be
practiced by men, women, and youth and it is a crucial sub-sector
that if developed properly will contribute towards poverty
reduction and enhancing the quality of life. The sub-sector has a
great potential for enhancing income in rural areas to support
sustainable development, especially considering the varied players
and activities along the broader chain. Despite the above and
numerous other probable advantages that can be realized from
beekeeping, the sub-sector remains largely unorganized and
underdeveloped in this remote area of the world. This is because
beekeeping is still carried as a part time activity mostly at
household level with scattered hives. As such most beekeeping
farmers have not fully valued its potential and translate it in to
commercial enterprise capable of generating income not for
themselves but for the larger communities living in surroundings.
The honey bee farmers try to get maximum production out of their
honey boxes by moving them around the valleys according to the
flora season which moves from south to north. The production of
honey can be increased many fold if the producers at the valley
level team up with each other in the form of association and move
their boxes around the valleys and learn from each otherís
experiences. But the problem is that honey bee farming has remained
a specialized activity among group of farmers in a specific
location in Chitral. There is a need to replicate these successful
models in the other valleys of Chitral where there are huge
potentials for honey bee farming.
The total production of natural honey from Chitral was 4 tons for
the year 2007 and it was produced from around 350 boxes. During the
survey it was found that a box can produce 30kg of honey in a year
but it depends on the favorable climatic condition. If the season
is favorable the production is good but if the season is not
favorable there is even no production at all.
The honey produced in Chitral is sold in the local market through
retail outlets in the villages and main bazaar of Chitral and there
were no arrangements for bulk trading of honey to down country.
Farmers told that they only produce enough quantities to meet local
demand, as they donít have opportunities to sell the excess
production. In the year 2007, MOGH Limited did a pilot of
wholesaling the honey from Chitral to Hashoo Foundation Islamabad.
Initially 948kg of honey was sold to Hashoo Foundation on cost
basis just to check the market situation and based on that Hashoo
Foundation placed an order for 8 tons for the year 2008. Keeping in
view the market response the farmers increased the production
capacity from 350 boxes to 500 boxes. But the year 2008 remained
very bad for farmers as the season was not favorable for the honey
bees. Even with the increased production capacity the total
production of honey for the year 2008 remained less than 2 tons and
out of that MOGH Limited could source only 400kg for Hashoo
Foundation, as the farmers were not willing to sell their honey for
prices agreed with between MOGH Limited and Hashoo Foundation. The
above situation shows that there still exists a huge supply and
demand gap for the natural honey of Chitral hence creating
opportunities for women entrepreneurs to enter into this business.
With all the varieties of honey available in the market there is
still a potential for Chitrali honey as it is natural and tasty.
People use honey not only as a food item but natural honey also
holds a great deal of medicinal value for the health conscious
consumers. To introduce and sell Chitrali honey in the general
consumer market there is need to fix realistic and competitive
prices so that it is compatible with other honey products in the
There are two types of species which are kept in Chitral.
1. Apis cerena (local bee or wild bee)
2. Apis malifera (European species, artificial)
The history of wild bee or mountainous bee is so old that it is
difficult to know about its origins. In early year people used
honey as a curing of different dieses when there were no medicines,
people still prefers local honey on colonial honey. The wild bees
are found in southern area of Chitral where natural forests are in
abundance, the area consists of Domun Gool, Ursoon and Kalash
valley in lower Chitral. The wild bees mostly use old pine trees
and caves for making hives.
The European species was introduced in Chitral 1990, for the
first time. Since then these species have spread widely across the
valley and become a good source of income and employments. Now a
dayís thousands of people are associated with bee farming and
running a good business. Though the business is thriving still
there are difficulties associated with this business.
Bee keeping associated Issues
The bee keepers face the following problems.
1. Lack of capacity and skills
One of the most common problems is that about 90% bee keepers are
untrained and lacking required technical skill. Due this factor
alone, they cannot yield good production and unable to get profits
from this sector.
2. Climatic Uncertainties.
The climatic condition does have adverse affect on bee farming. In
winter season snow falls in every part of the district while the
upper valley buried under the white icy cover throughout the winter
season. The temperature goes down to minus curtailing the business
activities. The bee colonies are one of the worst affected and most
of them are destroyed completely.
3. Lack of government interest for this sector.
The bee farming like many other sectors has yet to get government
attention. The bee keepers are working without the government
protection in case of natural calamity or destruction to their
production. They are not provided any facility which could provide
them sense of government protection.
4. Lack of capitals with bee keepers.
The people who are attached with this sector are mostly poor folk
with limited resources. They always face financial crunch and short
of capital to boost their business.
5. No guaranty of honey quality.
The lack of laborites for testing the production is big impediment.
6. Without brand name.
7. Poor planning.
8. Diseases attack.
9. Limited number of flowers for nectars and pollens.
10. Lack of market identification.
11. Short blooming season.
Role of NGOs in promotion of Bee Keeping:
The contribution of AKRSP in Bee Keeping
The role of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, (AKRSP) has been
very significant in bee keeping in Chitral. It is the pioneer rural
support organisation and has been working in Northern Areas and
Chitral for Socio-Economic development of the rural communities
through its multi-sectoral activities, in partnership with the
local village-based institutions (Village and Women Organizations),
in Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhaw (KPK) for the last 26
years. Since its inception, AKRSP has been contributing to Social
Development through formation and capacity building of grassroots
level community organizations, Natural Resource Management,
Infrastructure Development and Gender and Development in the
project area. In addition, initially, Micro Enterprise Development
through capacity building of micro entrepreneurs, and later on,
systematically identifying market based opportunities for rural
communities has always been on the top priority of AKRSPís
participatory development approach. The main role of AKRSP in
entrepreneurship development is, therefore, to develop
interventions which facilitate processes that one, improve the
position of potential small scale entrepreneurs; two, promote the
establishment of market linkages and public-private partnership and
three, influence policy making and governance to favor economic led
by the private sector.
It is in this light that beekeeping has been identified as a low
investment and high returns enterprise with enormous potential to
assist local communities in generating income for their livelihoods
thus justifying AKRSPs interest in the beekeeping sub-sector. The
sub sector of honey bee keeping that AKRSP not only identified but
also build the capacities of small producers to such extent that
now pure organic honey is available in the district throughout the
year. However, value addition, identification and access to larger
market are still an issue for the small producers of the District.
To combat with this situation AKRSP signed a partnership agreement
with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD),
Nepal. The main objectives of the project is to increase the income
of mountain men and women by promoting the value chains of honey
bee products and pollination services through the building of human
and institutional capacities and regional cooperation.
The Hashoo Foundation is new entrant in the field to promotion
of bee keeping sector to empower women in Chitral. The Women
Empowerment through Honey Bee Farming Project was initiated in 2007
to empower women in the Northern areas of Pakistan by expanding
home-based entrepreneurship opportunities for them. The rationale
for choosing honey bee farming was that it was already being
practiced in the area, albeit on small scale without ample
marketing opportunities. Further, the area affords an abundance of
flora which is used by bees for production of honey. Our field
teams conducted extensive consultations with the local communities,
especially women and they welcomed the initiative. The project
addresses the discrepancy between the income earned by male and
female beekeepers by educating women in beekeeping and linking them
to profitable markets. Furthermore, the project improves the status
of women in their communities, as they become more integrated in
the decision- making process within male-dominated societies the
project is based on a system of social barter, designed to promote
social change. HF agrees to buy the women beekeepers' honey and
successfully links them to the lucrative markets in Pakistan,
provided that the families agree to send their children to quality
schools, have regular health check-ups and improve nutrition at
home. The buying price is negotiated with the producers each year
and it takes into consideration factors like opportunity cost,
bulk-purchase, packaging cost and final sale price. The honey
buyers include PIA, Serena Hotels, Supermarkets, PC Hotels and
Marriott Hotels. The project has allowed its beneficiaries to
increase their income, hence, bringing a positive change in their
standard and quality of life.
The project has served as a sustainable social-business model which
uses a multi-sector approach and promotes women as the means of
their own economies. Women that participated in the project have
gone on to hold key leadership positions within the local Honey Bee
Associations. They say that now they feel more socially integrated
in a male-dominated enterprise, primarily because the project
addressed the discrepancy between male and female beekeepers.
Hazara university Mansehra