Improving the Cash Income of Poor Mountain Households through Apis cerana Beekeeping: An experience from Nepal

The Nepal Living Standard Survey (NLSS) in 2003/2004 indicated that Nepal's poverty headcount had dropped to 31 per cent from 42 per cent in 1995/96. Urban poverty has declined more than rural poverty. Despite the overall decrease in rural poverty, however, the level of inequality has widened, with the incidence of poverty becoming greater among lower caste people and ethnic minorities. Poverty among these groups has worsened because they possess meagre assets to earn income and are not well organised to access resources for their own development. Most of the services and inputs provided by different agencies do not reach these people. They are neither in a position to defend their interests nor are they able to gain benefits from external interventions.

Beekeeping offers a new source of livelihood for poor rural people. ICIMOD has conducted farm action research on Apis cerana beekeeping for over a decade. Working with local NGO partners, ICIMOD has helped farmers, especially women, to learn how to keep bees, produce items like beeswax skin creams and candles, and market honey and other products. Farmers choose the technologies for beekeeping that best suit their local circumstances. Beekeeping technologies and practices don't require much capital, and poor farmers can afford them. As beekeeping takes up little time, it is also ideal as a way for women to earn some income.

This article was written by Mr. Min Bahadur Gurung of ICIMOD and was published in ICIMOD'S Newsletter No. 48 under the title “Diversifying and Enhancing Livelihood Options in the Himalayan Region”, in Autumn 2005.