Extension services for the Ethiopian apiculture sector are limited. SNV is enhancing the service introducing lead beekeeper scheme to transform the sector in the Apiculture Scaling up Programme for Income and Rural Employment (ASPIRE) project.

“I will continue expanding my beekeeping business. My priority is however to support others in my area to become successful beekeepers like me. Above all maintaining the natural resource development activities is crucial for protecting the environment and our livelihoods.” Tsegahun Gebremedhin shares his future plan to a visiting team comprising of His Excellency the Netherlands Ambassador to Ethiopia, Bengt van Loosdrecht; SNV Ethiopia Country Director, Worku Behonegne, and experts from Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Tigray.

Tsegahun, a lead beekeeper in Degua Temben South Eastern zone of Tigray regional state, before owned only five modernised and five traditional hives. In 2014, he received training on modern beekeeping techniques. In 2016, he was selected as a lead beekeeper and attended a Training of Trainers course. 

The ASPIRE project introduced the lead beekeeper approach to strengthen the apiculture extension service by providing quality extension services to smallholder beekeepers. The project, together with the Woreda Office of Livestock and Fishery selected 89 progressive beekeepers from Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray regions. These beekeepers received training in modern beekeeping methodologies, facilitation skill and the necessary beekeeping materials important for assisting others.

His Excellency the Ambassador (left) visiting a honey processing industry

Basically, these lead beekeepers, on top of expanding their own beekeeping business, in turn are expected to support on 15-20 beekeepers per year each. Tsegahun managed to support 480  beekeepers and four primary cooperatives in transitional beehives making, colony transfer, seasonal management and other related activities,  Women formed 10% of the people trained by Tsegahun. 

In the previous season Tsegahun harvested 1,518 kg of honey and earned €15,000 selling it. By selling 90 bee colonies he earned an additional €5,000. This income has given him the opportunity to send his six children to school, engage in cattle fattening and producing fruits on 0.4 hectare irrigable land. He has now become an apiculture technical advisor in his area. 

Learning from the experience of ASPIRE, the Tigray regional government has scaled up the lead beekeeper approach to non-ASPIRE areas. The bureau trained 350 lead beekeepers and they started providing service in their respective woredas. The Head of Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau, Atinkut Mezgebu, recognising the effort of SNV in beekeeping capacity building expressed the government’s commitment in livestock in general and apiculture in particular.

“We are investing a lot in watershed activities to rehabilitate the land. The rehabilitation created a home for the bees. It has created an opportunity for the landless youth to invest in beekeeping. Bees also contribute to the vegetation through pollination. It is important to tap the potential of the region in honey production.” added Atinkut Mezgebu.

H. E. Bengt van Loosdrecht, Netherlands Ambassador to Ethiopia said, “I know what SNV stands for. You have connections with the people in the field and people like us; you are the go between. We are a good advocate of your activities.”

The Netherlands Ambassador to Ethiopia, the Agricultural Counsellor, Niek Bosmans, Agricultural Policy Officer, Betselot Mesfin, Policy officer SRHR/Gender, Lidya Tujuba, SNV Country Director, Worku Behonegne, Profound Managing consultant, Bret-Jan Ottens, and experts from SNV Ethiopia have visited the works of SNV in Tigray region particularly on beekeeping.


Tewodros Mekonnen

M&E Advisor