Pakistan, lies between Afghanistan to the west, India to the east, China to the north, Iran and the Arabian Sea to the south.Unfortunately the long and rich history of Pakistan is obscured by recent world-wide events. It is the home to 16 million people,the majority if which live in the major low-land cities. Geographically, Pakistan has a wide diverse range of habitats from 8000 m snow-capped Himalayan peaks, alpine and sub-alpine meadows, through a wide range of forest types down to the rich fertile plains of the Indus and arid deserts regions found in the south of the country. It has 800 km coastline along which the old capital and key port of Karachi is to be found. Therefore, it is not surprising to find Pakistan has a wealth of flora and fauna,which is starting to be systematically recorded with the setting up of series of new programs. In 2007 the WWF helped with the publication of the first ‘Birds of Pakistan’field guide and a National Insect Museum has been established and is starting to catalog their insects from old and new collections. With such a range of climatic conditions and habitat types, it is not surprising that the country has a rich bee fauna that includes at least three species of native Apis honey bees. These are the dwarf honey bee A. florea, the hill honey bee A. cerana, and rock honey bee A. dorsata. Also, A.andreni formes and A. laboriosa are almost certainly present and just a waiting discovery.
Females empowerment is the key driver of change in any society, and it is precisely why the Hashoo Foundation (HF) is putting so much emphasis on equitable access to quality training of women, particularly for those living in rural poverty where sustaining a decent living is difficult. We are empowering the women through Honey Bee Farming- “Plan Bee” program which was started in 2007. Through this training and provision of beehives and production kits, we are able to start up a small scale business in the remote areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mansehra, Chitral and AJK. In orders to complete the value chain, the Foundation also links them to local and national markets to maximize their profit. This is then invested, on their children’s health and education and also back into their businesses for scaling-up and expansion. Hashoo Foundation has successfully trained the 1,116 women in honey bee farming and has guided them set up 36 honey business groups. Some groups have developed their own honey brands and are operating them as their own separate business entities. The rest of the honey that was developed by these group is purchased by Hashoo Foundation, then processed and packaged under its own brand known as ‘Mountain Honey’, that is marketed and distributed to the selected areas across Pakistan, catering mostly to five star hotels. Hashoo Foundation’s involvement in strengthening the entire value chain cycle from production to distribution has allowed women beekeepers and their families to enjoy a lifestyle that they could not afford before. This program has served a sustainable social-business model which uses a multi-sector approach and encourages women to become independent. Womens that are to be participated in the project have gone on to hold key leadership positions within the local Honey Bee Associations. They become more socially integrated in an otherwise male-dominated enterprise. Now that’s highly acclaimed intervention by HF has won international awards including the BBC World Challenge in 2008.
Plan Bee Model
The project has served to bring about considerable improvement in the socio-economic status of the local communities, particularly women.
- 1,116 women trained in honey bee keeping
- 3,615 beehives and 1,116 production kits distributed
- 90,000 Kg of honey marketed since 2007
- 8,500 dependents provide better nutrition, health and education.
- 36 women honey business groups developed
- 37 million PKR. (US$ 35,000) earned by honey producers
- Now 1,497 Girls and boys are attending school.
- Decreased dependency level
- Won the prestigious BBC World Challenge award in 2008
- “Plan Bee” recognized and highlighted in Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
- “Mountain Honey” brand established