One of the interest groups gaining popularity in Phuc Thanh village is the Bee Keeping Club. Formed in 2005 as a pilot group for the agri-Extension project (NGO), the Club started with three household members bonded with common aims: to have a supply of honey for their household consumption; if there is excess honey, sell them as additional household income, and help in protecting the environment. Seeing the realization of these aims as well as the changes brought by the project to the initial model implementers, the group has expanded and as of 2015, there are 22 household members who are part of the Club.
Another admirable thing about this group is they are well linked, like the bees themselves, they are a well organized group who keeps themselves closely knit through regular thrice a month meetings and information sharing activities.
Bee keeping is not a new household enterprise in Phuc Thanh as the village attests that at least 10 percent of their population has tried engaging in bee raising but some decided to drop out citing lack of capital, insufficient skills in harvesting honey, and inability to get a good price as honey is sold to the market as their major problems. Thus the entry of the agri-Extension project was timely as it helped the households concerned to gain or enhance they bee keeping knowledge and skills and to continue their bee keeping operation. Through the project, the model implementers were provided with a bee keeping manual, technical support, and a start-up capital that enabled them to buy five boxes of bees to start their bee keeping operation.
The Club members are happy that aside from the enjoyment brought to them by this Club, as they can continue their hobby while having the opportunity to partly increase their income, they produce a product that is good for the people’s health. Moreover, their awareness on environmental concerns deepened and this instilled in them the need to be protectors of the environment.
At present, the group wants to increase their membership and to produce their own bottles as part of product packaging. They are enticing people to join them as this farm activity makes use of a small land area, minimal investment which is around 1.0M VND (50 USD) for one box/package of bees per year, and does not require a lot of manual work from the farmers. Income generation is also fast as income can be realized starting on the fourth month upon purchase of the bee box/es. Shelf life of honey is also long as it can be used even for years, hence no lost on investment means a gain on farmer households. As of August 2015, Phuc Thanh beekeeping club have 22 member with 1,500 bee boxes. It means that beekeeping brings about 75,000 usd incomes per year for farmers there.
By Mai Huong