Communities benefit from sustainable honey collection
Honey collection provides an important source of income for rural Cambodian communities, but the current system of harvesting damages bee hives and dramatically reduces production. The WWF Cambodia Country Programme’s Srepok Wilderness Area (SWA) project Community Extension Team (CET) has been teaching villages to harvest honey more sustainably - with encouraging results.
“Now I can collect honey from the same nest, two to three times. I am really happy.”
These were the words of Sean Tha, an indigenous Phnong/Bunong villager who lives in the Krong Teh commune of Mondulkiri Province. Tha had just completed a training course on sustainable honey collection, delivered by SWA’s CET and focusing on a collection technique that leaves the honey-producing portion of the hive intact.
“Rather than just collecting one lot of honey from a single nest, with this new technique I can collect up to three times during a 25 day period. This is very important to me because it gives me more income to support my family,” Tha continued.
In the Mondulkiri Protected Forest where the CET works, honey collection and sale can contribute up to 30% of a family’s total income. This past harvest season (April-May 2007), Tha collected honey worth around 200,000 Riel (US$50).
Unfortunately, the price of honey is not stable because it depends on brokers to set the price. The price for selling in the village is 10,000 to 12,000 Riel per litre, but if sold directly to tourists, the price can reach as high as 20,000 Riel per litre.
CET leader Amy Maling said the next step is to set targets for honey production within the Krong Teh commune, to help maintain quality and find additional honey markets.
“We hope that community members who attended this training course will be able to put into practice the new honey collection techniques they have just learned, but also to pass the information on to others in the community,” Ms Maling said.
The honey harvesting training course is just one of the many initiatives the SWA/CET is using to build a relationship with community members and assist them to conserve their natural heritage through the process of sustainable natural resource use.
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