Much has been reported on the global plight of honeybees. Their diminishing numbers make for worrying reading – far from a ‘cutesy’ environmental issue that is open to ridicule by politicians and moneymen, this phenomenon is directly tied to our species’ livelihood. The fact is that scientists don’t know why bees are disappearing (climate change, pollutants etc.), but their importance societally is undeniable – almost 80% of what we eat in the EU is pollinated by honeybees. So, with this in mind, a recent BBC Future piece showcased how the burgeoning telecommunications industry in East Africa is joining forces with farmers to help cultivate honey and make more money.
“For the past twelve years, Kenyan social business Honey Care Africa has developed its innovative ‘Business in a Beehive’ model that has allowed low-income farmers to easily earn more money by producing honey,” so writes Jonathan Kalan for the BBC. And what a fortuitous time to be cultivating this lucrative trade which, much like coffee, finds the planetary demand far outstripping supply. Smartphones are playing a vital role in this project as well; allowing farmers and suppliers to keep abreast of production, pricing and distribution. This honey network is made even more opportune by the fact that it allows customers, through central databases, to find out where their honey is coming from and who produced it.
Fairtrade products have been increasingly in demand and this is a clever way to help poorer communities and the environment as a whole. Madison Ayer, Honey Care Africa’s CEO, was keen to elaborate on the connectivity of their product and it’s innovative integration with consumer demand by utilizing now-ubiquitous Apps to follow the honey’s trail: “The app also allows global consumers to connect more with Kenyan beekeepers. For example, imagine picking up a jar of Honey Care Africa honey off the shelves of your local supermarket, scanning a QR code on the jar, and seeing the family, trees and hives that produced, along with harvest date all on your screen.” Hope for the future.