The Universal Outreach community is focused on beekeeping and for many good reasons. We highly value the premise this program is built on—develop sustainable markets so that people who need to earn more money have opportunities to do so. With 70% of the population of Liberia earning a living from agriculture—at an average yearly income of $450/year—beekeeping is the perfect added value skill that provides an extra source of income.
There is a strong market for local honey in Liberia. When a beekeeper starts producing honey there’s a guaranteed buyer waiting to purchase it. This means that the timing is right for training more beekeepers.
Together, let’s train more people to beekeep so they can experience earning a fair dollar based on their motivation and hard work. Every parent deserves the dignity that comes with providing for their family and we believe that beekeeping will make that a reality in Liberia.
How it All Started
When Universal Outreach started in 2003 we were strictly about two things: kids and education. Over the years we have learned that for families’ to be able to afford to send their kids to school they need financial stability. This is where our interest in beekeeping training started. Five years later and we’re still dedicated to the development of this important income-generating occupation that thrives in rural locations.
Beekeeping is a value added skill that provides families with an extra source of income that seriously impacts their ability to meet their financial needs each year. Beekeeping targets one of Liberia’s lowest income earners —farmers— and its benefits are two-fold. Not only does it increase their income, it also increases the yield of their crops. But farmers aren’t the only people who can beekeep. Landless people can partner with those who have land, communities that have decided to preserve their forest can use beekeeping offset income loss from reduced lumber sales and city folks can beekeep on the family farm.
Over the past five years UOF has helped in the creation of a honey industry that is community driven, sustainable, and economically beneficial to farmers. Since 2011, this program trained hundreds of farmers in ninety communities to become beekeepers. The most common use of the extra money generated by beekeeping activities is said to be: school fees, medical bills for their family, home improvements and reinvesting in hives.
In collaboration with Liberia Beekeepers Association, we have developed a “Training of Trainers” certification program as well as an “Introduction to Beekeeping” program. The introductory program provides a standardized knowledge base for beekeeping that can then be practiced at the participants hives with the help of a Universal Outreach beekeeping extension worker. The Advanced training takes Liberia’s most invested beekeepers, hones their skills and provides a more in-depth knowledge as well as teaching skills that can then be utilized to host workshops for interested individuals, other organizations or farmers in their communities. Thank you for your commitment to this program.
Universal Outreach’s training and extension work program draws from Liberia’s top beekeepers and employs eight people in its beekeeping extension work team. This team travels Liberia to support new beekeepers, collect data, harvest honey for Liberia Pure Honey and share important information related to beekeeping. They are essential to the success of this developing industry. We have recently expanded this program to ensure the success of new beekeepers and the industry as a whole. Thanks to all of you for supporting this expansion!
In addition to beekeeping training we’ve also helped with the creation of Liberia Pure Honey, a social enterprise that buys, packages, and sells Liberian honey in local grocery stores. Since inception Liberia Pure Honey has put over $50, 000 USD in the hands of beekeepers. Sales are on the rise which means more beekeepers are needed. Liberia Pure Honey also employs two full time and one part time staff members.
Another exciting spinoff from the development of beekeeping industry in Liberia is the new line of “Made in Liberia” beekeeping equipment. Tailors, carpenters, tin benders and welders all financially benefit from this developing industry. Beekeepers have the added advantage of more affordable products that are readily available. Universal Outreach was able to provide the start up loan to this business and mentor it through its initial years of growth and expansion.
Liberians have developed a taste for local honey which has created a demand for more of this delicious and nutritious food. To meet the need for increased production the Universal Outreach community is building Liberia Pure Honey a new and improved processing, packaging and warehouse facility so they can increase production. The new honey facility, in combination with training more farmers, means that this important industry will continue to develop and provide an important income source to farmers. Construction starts in November 2017.
Photo Credit: Tori Ball