November 5, 2018.- In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Solomon Islands honey was well positioned to begin exporting, as the industry was starting to thrive with an expanding membership and local investment. However, this took an unexpected turn with the introduction of the Asian bee which began decimating hives and by 2005, the industry had almost disappeared entirely.
Some 13 years later, honey production in Solomon Islands is experiencing a resurgence. The Solomon Islands Small Business Enterprise Center (SISBEC) has brought together hundreds of honey farmers across four provinces, and with support from the Solomon Islands Rural Development Program (RDP), is organizing the distribution of resources, infrastructure, and training to reignite the honey industry.
On the island of Simbo in Solomon Islands’ Western Province, a local non-profit called Gizo Women in Business is working in coordination with SISBEC to encourage women to enter the honey business.
“I made SI$300 my first harvest,” shared Giuvido Tione, a mother of six. "I just finished my third harvest last month, and this time I sold almost SI$1,000 worth of honey. I used the money to pay for my kids’ school fees, and I’m also saving to build a sanitation system for my home.”
Giuvido is part of a female savings club coordinated by the SISBEC, Gizo Women in Business, and RDP Partnership. Collectively, the women have saved more than SI$24,000 in 2018.
Members of Gizo Women in Business pose for a photo on Simbo Island Honey production is growing across Simbo, and 15 new farmers have joined the effort since the start of the year. RDP has provided funding for 45 hive boxes, as well as wax, tools, suits, and training on beekeeping and financial management.
Impacts of the partnership
Thanks to the joint effort by RDP, SISBEC, and Gizo Women in Business, women in Simbo and other rural areas across the country are reviving the honey industry and reaping the benefits of increased job opportunities. SISBEC has overseen the training of 140 new honey farmers, introducing over 700 bee hives nationwide and generating an average annual income of SI$13,000 per farmer.
By the end of 2019, women in Simbo are projected to be annually producing more than SI$500,000 worth of honey.
The Solomon Islands Rural Development Program is jointly funded by the World Bank, Australian Government, European Union, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Solomon Islands Government.