International center for insect Physiology and ecology (icipe) organized a Honey Festival in Bahir Dar last week on account of the completion of the first round of the Young Entrepreneurs Honey Project in Amhara region.
icipe is implementing a USD 10 million five year project on Young Entrepreneurs in Silk and Honey (YESH).
Young male and female beekeepers exhibited a variety of bee products and made connections. Alongside the festival, the event also comprised of stakeholders’ forums, knowledge sharing platforms, and discussion sessions on ways to attract investment and scale up the YESH Project across the country.
According to Desalegne Tadesse, Communications officer of the YESH Program, the festival intended to promote and present commercial beekeeping as a prospect for youth employment in Ethiopia. The project was launched by the financial support of MasterCard Foundation.
Workneh Ayalew (Ph.D.), YESH Program Coordinator, said as a pilot project icipe has worked on youth entrepreneurship with a limited number of jobless youth five years ago. He said the pilot project indicated that it can create better working opportunities for youth, benefiting many in rural areas.
With the project proposal received well, MasterCard allocated USD 10 million and benefited 10,000 youth in Amhara regional state (Awi, East and West Gojjam), in a five year period.
By working in tandem with local governments, the project helped the youth access land for beekeeping, which was not permitted in the region before. YESH provided training, materials, and market opportunities to youngsters.
When it was first implemented, 10,000 youth attended the training but more than 2,000 did not continue after taking their per diem fees during the training. Those who achieved the project’s goals are close to 2,000. More than 4,500 still need some support from the project.
Workneh said that the MasterCard foundation wanted icipe to widen the project to other regions as well after it verified the project’s impact on young entrepreneurs. Now the center is working with 17,000 youth a year on honey and silk in Ethiopia’s four regional states. For the second round of the project, MasterCard Foundation has provided USD 55.6 million to benefit 100,000 youth.
“These days, lack of job opportunities is a political issue. As long as there are not enough jobs for the youth, unrests will occur frequently. As a result, political leaders are ready to support the project and showed commitment to discuss and find solutions to the problems young entrepreneurs face while implementing the project,” Workeneh said.
Ethiopia has a capacity of making 500,000 tons of honey a year. But now, the country is only producing nine to 10 percent of its total capacity.
By Elias Tegegn