Promotion of Endemic Bees in the Himalayas

Preserving biodiversity, traditional habits, and sustainability of mountain livelihoods in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya Region

  • Sectors: Promotion of biodiversity
  • Duration: <07/1994 - 12/2004
  • Volume: 2.5 Mill. Euro
  • Persons/ Months: 75
  • Client: Austrian Development Cooperation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Vienna
  • Partners: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal; Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension & Development (CEAPRED), Kathmandu, Nepal; Sahara Centre for Residential Care & Rehabilitation, Kullu, India; Society for Advancement of Village Economy (SAVE), Kullu, India; Society for Technology & Development, Mandi, India; Dr.Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry, Solan, India; Rural Support Programmes Network, Islamabad, Pakistan; Honeybee Research Institute (HBRI), Islamabad, Pakistan; Annapurna Beekeeping and Environment Promotion (BEENPRO), Kaski, Nepal; Bangladesh Small Cottage Industry Cooperation (BSCIC), Dhaka, Bangladesh; Bangladesh Institute of Agriculture, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Kabul, Afghanistan; Local NGOs

Poverty and fragility are two major constraints to development in the Hindu Kush Himalayas. Indigenous honeybees can play a very important role in addressing both issues. Beekeeping is increasingly recognised as an important part of poor, rural livelihoods, especially of mountain people. It offers true possibilities for the creation of sustainable livelihoods (by honey and wax production, and in particular by crop pollination), while maintaining biodiversity and providing incentives for the conservation of habits.

The first phase of the project started in the early 1990s and was designed as a research project; focus of phase II was on training and extension of farmers. In 1999 the project was re-planned, former results were taken into consideration. The resulting four main activities were:

1. The Apis cerana Selection and Multiplication Programme is an action research programme carried out in cooperation with farmers. Systematic collection of data, training in queen rearing and improved beekeeping management will help to select the best strains of apis cerana, one of the indigenous honeybees of the HKH region.
2. Field surveys on indigenous honeybees and communities linked to them are carried out in the HKH region and in Nepal. These surveys include all bee species, honey hunters, traditional skills and techniques of honey hunting, and socio-economic aspects of beekeeping and honey hunting.
3. The economically most significant value of beekeeping is pollination. The Pollination Action-Research Programme has shown that native bee species are much better pollinators than imported bees; they contribute to conserving biodiversity, help to sustain the natural resource base and increase farm productivity.
4. The networking programme is focussing on the dissemination of information gained by the project and is carried out through Api-net, a network created in Nepal.

Austroprojekt is providing technical support to the project in collaboration with the British NGO “Bees for Development” and the Indian “Keystone Foundation”. Participation in regular meetings of the Project Steering Committee and regular monitoring missions are also part of Austroprojekt-s responsibilities.

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