More than a month ago, upon my arrival to Addis, Cien and I had the opportunity of attending a National Honey Board Association conference where we met some very important Ethiopian beekeepers as well as researchers. One of those key players is Desalegn Begna, the Senior Ethiopian Researcher, Advisor and President of the Ethiopian Beekeepers association. Having exchanged basic information over our current beekeeping endeavors at the meetings’ coffee break, we met up this past Monday in Addis to assess to the progress of our goals.
Having recently returned from Kembata-Tembaro I was eager to share with him the information I had gathered over our community meetings. As I have previously mentioned, beekeeping whether traditional or modern is very popular in Ethiopia, leading the country to be the largest honey producer in Africa and the third largest in the world. Wax production, although only fulfilling 15% of its full potential also ranks in the top 4 though out the world. Because of this success, beekeeping and production are heavily recorded across the country, yet the Kembata-Tembaro region of the southwest is statistically untouched. Therefore my general assessment of the Azedabo and Kololo villages is of great interest to the beekeeping community.
Over the bustling merchants of the sadist kilo coffee shop, I reiterated my interest in beekeeping for health and nutrition, both bee and human. With a PhD in bee biology and years of experience with beekeeping for development work here in Ethiopia, Desalegn was enthusiastic to offer his support and assistance, as well as research supervision of my goals. Of greatest interest is my desire to collaborate with him and his colleagues at the Holeta Bee Research Center, where they investigate as well as develop community appropriate beekeeping methods. Eager to assist Desalegn picked up the phone and arranged a tour at the center for the following day.
Tuesday April 23rd, Cien, Ashu, our trusted driver Getsh and I, rented a car and traveled 35 kilometers north to the Oromia Agriculture Research Institute where the Holeta Bee Research center is located. Founded as the Beekeeping Demonstration Station in 1965 and later changed to its current name, the center engages in full time research on improved management of beekeeping, bee product handling and processing, bee forage biology of local honeybees, bee health, socio-economic and extension research. Moreover the center has been producing skilled manpower in the fielded of beekeeping through training beekeeping experts, bee technicians and beekeepers of the country.
Upon our arrival we were greeted by our tour guide and bee management specialist Tolera Kumsa, and began our 2 hour introduction to the compound. I was again amazed at my good fortune of finding such a bee information goldmine and made sure to gather as much information as possible. However it wasn’t difficult as one of the center’s main goals is focused on transparency.