Transforming Lives - A Tale of Sweet Success

“Last year, I received only four boxes of honey bees, which allowed me to produce and sell honey worth Rs. 40,000. This income helped me clear my debts and manage daily expenses,” shared Shabi Noor Khan, a resident of Gulaghmuli Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan's Ghizer District and a beneficiary of Socio-Economic Development Programme (SEDP).

In 2022, the SEDP, introduced beekeeping as a pilot project in remote rural valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral and supported Shabi Noor in this endeavour. SEDP conducted comprehensive training sessions across these valleys on various aspects of beekeeping such as handling of honey bees, understanding their dietary requirements, proper care and the honey extraction process. Shabi Noor, who had some prior knowledge of beekeeping, remarked, “The training significantly improved my understanding and included practical demonstrations on beekeeping dos and don'ts.” Participants gained insights into bee population dynamics, identifying different bee species, recognizing queen bees and ensuring overall bee health.

Following the successful training, beneficiaries received their bee boxes and strategically positioned them at suitable locations. The favourable and unpolluted climate of the valleys facilitated the bees' foraging activities, resulting in ample honey production.

Due to the promising outcome, and recognizing the untapped economic prospects in the remote valleys, SEDP decided to expand the project to cover more beneficiaries in 2023.. Aligned with its mission to equip beneficiaries with essential skills and technical assistance, SEDP enlisted trainers to aid in the honey extraction process. The carefully conducted honey extraction from the boxes produced a substantial quantity of pure and organic honey.

To enhance the financial gains for the recipients, SEDP supported those from Gulaghmuli Valley, near Shandur, in transporting their extracted honey to the Shandur Polo Festival. With meticulous packaging for marketing purposes, the honey gained considerable attention at the festival and a significant portion was sold. This effort not only generated income for the beneficiaries but also introduced the local populace to the availability of organic honey.

The honey originating from these valleys is renowned for its purity, being free from additives, and certified as organic. This brings economic benefits and extends advantages to the local community by providing access to unadulterated, organic honey. Organic honey is sourced from beehives managed without synthetic chemicals, pesticides or antibiotics. Bees collect nectar from untreated flowers, resulting in a more natural and environment-friendly product. Organic beekeeping practices prioritize the well-being of bees, their habitat and the broader ecosystem. With growing consumer demand for healthier and sustainable choices, the market for organic honey has expanded, offering beekeepers opportunities for economic growth while promoting ecological equilibrium.