Yemen’s Liquid Gold

[Update May 21, 2015: Unfortunately, due to deteriorating conditions on the ground and out of concern for the safety of our staff, the Yemen CASH Program is being suspended starting June 14, 2015. Our thoughts are with the people of Yemen, and we hope that IESC can be part of building a brighter future for the country.]

Through a USAID program in Yemen, IESC is building bigger markets for Yemeni honey

In Yemen’s Al-Haimah district, near the city of Sana’a, 40 beekeepers have struck gold. In March 2015, these 40 beekeepers of the Al-Ruqy Coffee and Honey Producers Association sold 187 pounds of honey, worth $2,125 U.S. dollars, to the Yemen Eyes for Agriculture Advisory and Exporting Company, or YEAS. The price they got per kilo, $25, is a 67 percent increase over what the beekeepers earned from their previous harvest.

Honey producers in Yemen learn how to increase their harvest while maintaining high quality standards.

It was the first sale of high-quality, premium grade Dhoba honey under an agreement signed by Al-Ruqy and YEAS, which specializes in the marketing and export of Yemeni honey. Under the terms of the agreement, YEAS will purchase all honey produced by the 40 Al-Ruqy beekeepers as long as they comply with YEAS’ quality standards and specifications. YEAS will export Al-Ruqy’s honey to high-value markets in the Arab Gulf states.

The agreement was facilitated by the USAID-funded Competitive Agricultural Systems for High Value Crops Program. The program seeks to improve food security and reduce poverty in Yemen by increasing access to finance, establishing market linkages, and improving the technical skills of rural workers in select value chains, including honey. Land O’ Lakes International Development is the lead implementing organization, and IESC directs the program’s market access team, which assisted with the Al-Ruqy-YEAS agreement.

In order for the beekeepers to comply with the terms of the agreement, they needed some additional training. Through the CASH Program, the Yemeni beekeepers were taught how to increase their honey yields and still comply with international quality standards. YEAS provided beekeepers with modern, more efficient beekeeping equipment and replaced old beehives and tools.

‘I can’t believe I was able to produce honey like this, compared with prior harvests,’ said one Al Ruqy beekeeper.

The coordinated assistance by YEAS and CASH resulted in a real, tangible benefit for the beekeepers: a better price for their honey.

Private sector companies such as YEAS have an important role to play in creating sustainable market systems and improving standards of living. ‘[The program] has inspired us, as honey traders, to be closer to the rural beekeepers and help them produce along our market and client requirements,’ the CEO of YEAS said.

The CASH Program hopes to expand this market approach to improve the livelihoods of more Yemeni beekeepers and make global consumers aware of the world-class quality of Yemini honey.

The Competitive Agricultural Systems for High Value Crops Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development under a Cooperative Agreement with the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance. Land O’Lakes International Development is the lead implementer of this program. Awarded in 2014, the five-year CASH Program aims to enhance food security through the creation of sustainable market systems and by reducing poverty in rural areas of Yemen.