On February 4th, ONEArmenia, a non-profit organization focusing on building sustainable economies in Armenia, launched a new campaign to initiate beekeeping activities in the border village of Baghanis.
About 800 people live in Baghanis, a small village located a few kilometers away from the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, where the economic situation is dire. Most of the these lands are inaccessible because of unsettled border issues, landmines and occasional sniper fire. There is no industry in the region, and the lack of jobs causes high emigration rates, as the men leave to find work in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, or in neighbouring Russia.
“What’s at stake is the creation of sustainable income-providing activities in Baghanis, so that families need not be torn apart, nor uprooted”, said Patrick Sarkissian, ONEArmenia’s founder. “Our goal is for the people in a strategically important area to be able to live and thrive on their own land”.
“Bring on the Buzz” is exactly that. ONEArmenia and Sahman NGO are collaborating on a crowdfunding campaign to provide 18 rural families from Baghanis with 4 beehives each, allowing them to create a stable income and sustain themselves through honey production.
The funds collected will go towards made-in-Armenia beehives, bee colonies, beekeeping tools, and equipment. Each of the 18 families involved will receive extensive training in beekeeping techniques, and will also be assisted in finding market outlets for their honey production.
“We’re aiming for sustainable, lasting impact”, says Anna Aghajanian, Sahman NGO’s co-founder. To ensure the project’s sustainability, Sahman’s in-house beekeeping expert will therefore regularly visit the new beekeepers for a full year, providing ongoing training and advice.
Beekeeping: a sustainable activity for Armenian villages
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has described beekeeping as a helpful means to create sustainable livelihoods. Bees are low maintenance as they typically look after themselves, so beekeeping fits in well with other income-providing activities.
Beekeeping is neither time-consuming, nor overly complex, but it is a lucrative trade. One beehive can produce up to 25 kilograms of honey per year, and in Armenia, each kilogram can be sold for up to 7 dollars. In impoverished border villages such as Baghanis, where a family’s income averages approximately 500 dollars per year, starting a beekeeping business can mean the difference between local development vs. total emigration.
The installation of 72 beehives in Baghanis will not only improve the villagers’ living conditions. It will also have a positive impact on the surrounding environment by bringing pollinating honeybees to the region, hence ensuring the preservation of Baghanis’s natural assets.
Bees are also known to thrive in non-industrial areas like the Tavush region, where the air is clean and the environment preserved. “Healthy bees help ensure the quality of the honey”, explains George Tabakian, Sahman NGO’s co-founder. “And while the climate in Armenia’s countryside is favorable to beekeeping, its potential hasn’t yet been properly utilised”.
Sustainability & Community
For the last 4 years, Sahman NGO has been working with similar villages in the Tavush region, and their model has already proved efficient. The NGO’s track record is impressive, with 30 greenhouses, and 112 beehives under their belt in the villages of Barekamavan, Berkaber, Chinari, Aygedzor and Nerqin Karmraghbyur.
For both NGOs involved, it is crucial that the project’s impact goes beyond the 18 families provided with beehives. “The future beekeepers have already agreed that they would give back to their community by donating 1kg of honey per hive over 2 years”, says Anna Aghajanian from Sahman NGO. “The donated honey will then be sold to help fund the local kindergarten”.
To help ONE Armenia and Sahman NGO make lives sweeter in the border village of Baghanis, share or donate to their “Bring on the Buzz” campaign.