BfD Trustees Meeting 27th July 2013

By way of preparation for his sponsored charity bike ride on behalf of BfD the following weekend, trustee Bernie Thomas decided to cycle to the BfD Trustees Meeting held on Saturday 27th July. His journey was to take him from Bristol to Monmouth and then back to Bristol following the meeting. On the Sunday, he was planning to ride 100 miles from Bristol to Exeter. The morning ride took him over the Severn Bridge, past Chepstow and along the beautiful valley of the River Wye to Monmouth. Unfortunately, the weather turned very wet and meant that Bernie couldn’t complete the planned return legs of his journey and had to make his way back to Exeter by train! Please visit the Just Giving web page at if you would like to make a donation.

The meeting was held at BfD headquarters in Monmouth. The Trustees reviewed the progress over the previous three months including the much needed appointment of an Office Manager to manage the charity’s increasing administrative workload. The recruitment process had uncovered many excellent candidates, many of whom, were willing to give their time freely to support the charities work. Trustees spent time discussing how their time and support may be used more effectively. Plans to do this were discussed and Trustees agreed to implement them in advance of the next Trustees Meeting. The remainder of the meeting focussed on examining and agreeing priorities for the charities work over the next three to six months.

BfD Trustees Meeting 4th May 2013

A detailed and productive meeting to review the charities progress and to prioritise and agree plans moving forward. Overall, the charity is making good progress across its active projects in Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, Zanzibar, and Cameroon. The charities Apicultural Centre of Excellence in Ethiopia has made a significant impact since being established last June. The Centre is being ably led by Tilahun Gebey and is engaging with key stakeholders including farmers, beekeepers, traders, University of Bahir Dar, Ministry of Agriculture, and local governing institutions. The trustees were given a detailed outline of the activities and progress of each of its projects and the ACE. Internally, BfD have been strengthened by the appointment of a Project Officer for Uganda and also an intern. The additional staffing has relieved the pressure on the existing team.

Fundraising initiatives were discussed. There was recognition of the need to engage corporate sponsors. The charity already has a number of good corporate contacts and the trustees agreed to enter exploratory discussions to establish how BfD may work with them to generate funds.

Bees for Development Ethiopia – Progress Report June to December 2012

Beekeeping in Amhara is a well-established activity, part and parcel of the livelihoods of very many farmers. Selling honey for honey wine, medicine and to be eaten as a food has driven the trade. Selling refined honey or table honey is a relatively new idea.

Early in 2012 Tilahun Gebey, an exceptionally highly motivated beekeeper and development worker in Amhara contacted Bees for Development expressing his strong interest in dedicating more of his time to beekeeping development work. BfD have known Tilahun for many years and knew and valued his expertise and experience.

Tilahun Gebey, Director (right) andAmmanuel Mengiste , Coordinator, in the office of Bees for Development Ethiopia in Bahir Dar. Bees for Development Ethiopia has been registered in Ethiopia as a local charity and is governed by 5 Board Members.

Tilahun Gebey, Director (right) and
Ammanuel Mengiste , Coordinator, in the office of Bees for Development Ethiopia in Bahir Dar. Bees for Development Ethiopia has been registered in Ethiopia as a local charity and is governed by 5 Board Members.

Together we formed the idea of setting up an Apiculture Centre of Excellence in Amhara. The idea was to establish an institution which could act as a hub and a catalyst – for trade, for knowledge, for research and for learning. It was clear that beekeeping and honey trade had the potential to alleviate poverty in Amhara – but developing this potential is a complex business. Markets are changing, agriculture practices are changing, new challenges and opportunities are emerging and for beekeeping to have an impact on poverty calls for actions on many levels.

Trade Advance Ltd joined forces with Bees for Development in 2012 and supported BfD and Tilahun Gebey to make the Centre of Excellence a reality. This report tells of some of the main achievements over the past six months.

Below, Tilahun is discussing with beekeepers in Libokemkem woreda. Beekeepers say they mainly use local style hives but the Livestock Agency encourages them to use frame hives. It is relatively easy to sell honey – there are many local traders. Beekeepers say the price they get is too low but they also know that traders pay higher prices for the best quality honey.

consulting farmers nov 2012

Here beekeepers are learning how to make top-bar hives using materials they can access easily. Top-bar hives allow some colony management but they are cheaper than frame hives and no additional equipment, such as a honey extractor, is required.

making top bar hives

apiary landless group



These hives are owned by a group of young people who have no land of their own. They have been allowed to keep hives in catchment areas which are being protected to restore the natural vegetation (see background). Bees for Development Ethiopia is planning to work with these groups to help them progress. The potential is there, but it will take time for these youths to gain good skills in beekeeping and make a real success of this opportunity.

ApiExpo 2012 was an international show which took place in Addis Ababa in October. Both Bees for Development Ethiopia and Molla Jember, another partner of BfDE and Trade Advance, gave talks at the conference.

Tewebe Nigru and Muluken Anteneh keep bees. They also apply pesticides to their vetch crop. They know that the pesticides are killing the bees but don’t know what to do about it. This is a clash between beekeeping and modern agriculture which is happening all across Amhara. Bees for Development Ethiopia has submitted a funding application to Big Lottery UK for a project to try and solve this problem. There are changes that can be made to the way people use pesticides so bee poisoning can be reduced. It takes dialogue, discussion and new policies to make this change. That is what BfDE is setting out to do.


Honey traders buy and sell honey. They reach even the remotest communities and play an essential part in the honey market chain as a whole. They don’t have it all their own way. Some beekeepers deliberately store honey for the post-harvest season so they can sell to the traders for a higher price. The biggest constraint which traders face is that they too are poor! They can only buy small volumes of honey which means they can never make enough money to build a honey store, to bulk honey, to process honey. This makes it hard for traders to take advantage of new market opportunities for refined or table honey. Beekeeping cooperatives are able to do this because they can attract help from the government. However, unlike traders who are canny business-men co-operatives tend to suffer from being too bureaucratic and they incur wasteful overheads. This then means they become uncompetitive. In the end beekeepers find traders can pay better prices than their ‘own’ co-operatives. For trading systems to work well for the trade and for the beekeepers there needs to be information and networking. Bees for Development Ethiopia is working to make this happen.

Apiculture is taught at Bahir Dar University. Bees for Development Ethiopia has been approached by the University with view to working together to develop a new MSc course. It is essential that professionals working in government and in the NGO sector are well trained and understand how to develop beekeeping, the industry as a whole, in a sustainable way for the benefit of the poor.

Achievements June to December 2012

 Bees for Development Ethiopia registered as an Ethiopian NGO

 Full time staff, including accountant, in place

 Board of 5 Trustees have volunteered to govern the organisation

 Attended ApiExpo 2012 in Addis Ababa and made presentation at the conference

 Translated Bees for Development training modules into Amharic

 Won an additional £10,000 from Marr Munning Trust to train beekeeper trainers

 Written three funding applications to train trainers, develop new trading systems with local honey traders and to develop a Code of Conduct for improved use of pesticides to reduce honey bee poisoning

 Liaison and sharing of ideas with SNV, OXFAM and ACDI VOCA with view to collaborative working

 Technical advice given to Link Ethiopia about apiary establishment

 Worked with Livestock Bureau in developing apiculture training manual for Amhara

 Formed an agreement with Bahir Dar University concerning supervising research projects of apiculture students and developing a new curriculum

Apicultural Centre of Excellence – Progress Update January 2013

BfDEthiopiaSince June 2012, BfD appointed Tilahun Gebey to lead the charities work in Ethiopia. Tilahun has unparalleled expertise in the apicultural sector in Ethiopia and has worked closely with BfD for many years. One of Tilahun’s first tasks was to create a legal and organisation framework within which the work of the Apicultural Centre of Excellence could be delivered. This required the setting up of a charity, a task which took a number of months but has now been completed. The charity is registered in Ethiopia as Bees for Development Ethiopia.

In September 2012, BfD Ethiopia were invited to ApiExpo 2012 in Addis Ababa. Janet Lowore, BfD’s African Project Officer joined Tilahun to raise awareness of the charity’s work in rural Ethiopia. ApiExpo brought together apiculture producers, buyers, and stakeholders from across Africa and the world.

BfD Ethiopia is collaborating with Link Ethiopia (an Ethiopian private enterprise partly financed by Trade Advance) to ensure honey and beeswax produced by the farmers can be marketed effectively in more lucrative distant markets. In addition, Link Ethiopia is setting up commercial apiaries across Amhara region to serve two purposes: the first is to provide a training facility for farmers where they can learn how to run small-scale commercial apiaries; the second is to build production capacity of high quality table honey, a product much in demand by the countries growing middle-class.

BfD Ethiopia is ‘training the trainers’ – it is working with the Governments Livestock Agency and boosting the beekeeping skills of its departments many extension workers through training so that they can impart improved beekeeping techniques to the regions many impoverished farmers. They are also working with acadamic staff of Bahir Dar University and are in discussions about supervising some of the research projects being undertaken by students studying apiculture. BfD have a particular interest in research work as this uncovers the damaging effects of pesticides on bee forage and biodiversity. It is critical that the impirical evidence derived from research is used to enable key stakeholders to better monitor and manage the natural environment that beekeepers and their bee colonies are so dependent on.

Betterness: Economics For Humans

Betterness: Economics For Humans

Just been blown away by Umair Haque’s book, “Betterness: Economics for Humans“. Chock full of insight and great quotes such as these,

Twenty percent of the world’s population – more than 1.5 billion people – is undernourished. Over 9 million people – 5 million of them children – die every year from malnutrition. More than 11 million children die every year from preventable diseases, like malaria and diarrhoea. Half the world’s population lives on less than $2 dollar a day. Three million people die every year from water-related diseases that could be prevented. There are 27 million slaves in the world. Taken together, that’s an astonishing set of indictments. They might not conclusively reduce the conventional wisdom about business to rubble, but they’re enough to make me stop, shake my head, and ask myself, “if business as usual can’t solve any of the above, then just what the heck is it good for?

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Apicultural Centre Of Excellence To Be Opened In Ethiopia

Ethiopian farmers receiving beekeeping training

Trade Advance Ltd and Bees for Development are delighted to announce an innovative partnership to develop beekeeping livelihoods in one of the poorest parts of Ethiopia. The initial step will be to establish an Apiculture Centre of Excellence, the first of its kind, in the State of Amhara. The Centre will be an information and education hub, offering advice about beekeeping as a business.

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