Honey Production Empowers Women in Bajo Cauca
The municipality of Caucasia is located in a region with a high level of illegal mining, which has historically stunted the development of agricultural activities. In an effort to take charge of their own futures, 43 women formed the Association of Cuturú for Agricultural and Livestock Producers (ASOCUTURU) to join the regional honey producing company Campo Dulce. Working as an association the women can aggregate their production, making them more attractive to reliable buyers such as Campo Dulce.
Amelia Francisca German is an agricultural technician and one of the founding partners of ASOCUTURU. She started with 45 beehives, and at the end of 2018 she harvested 150 kilograms of honey, which she sold to Campo Dulce at a price of $2.50 per kilogram for a total of $375.
This first sale motivated Amelia to seek out more training in the handling of beehives to improve productivity and quality of her honey. She began working with PMA in September 2018, and has received technical assistance on disease monitoring and prevention, how to conduct productivity analyses of queen bees to improve volumes and quality, and best practices in harvesting.
After implementing these practices, Amelia expects to harvest 450 kilograms of honey in June, a 200 percent increase in less than a year. With the additional income from increased sales, Amelia plans to invest in 25 more hives.
Becoming a honey producer has changed Amelia's life, and that of her entire family.
“I have always had my own source of income,” she explained. “At first, my husband did not support me; he was concerned about the care of our children, but he soon realized that with my income we have been able to have a better way of life. Now he helps me with the beehives and prepares the land where I am going to put the new hives.”
Beekeeping has become an economic activity driven by women in the region. Of the 434 producers participating in PMA activities with Campo Dulce, 53 percent are women. PMA’s market-led support to Campo Dulce has resulted in approximately $105,000 of sales of honey through a commercial alliance with Griffith Foods, which has committed to invest $270,000 in transport costs and working capital for the purchase of raw material.
Training and technical assistance in production, harvest and postharvest practices, and business skills are leading to increased incomes for female producers in the honey value chain in Cauca and Antioquia, empowering them make investments that contribute to the future of their families.
"I always thought that the future is in the field, that's why I studied to be an agricultural technician,” said Amelia.