How sweet it is to bee sustainable

ALGERIA • Though Ms Messad Djoudi's father is a beekeeper, she never took an interest in what he did.

But today, the young woman has her own farm with 10 hives, thanks to training by the Association for the Promotion of Mountain Apiculture (APMA), which equips women with the skills to embark on beekeeping as a livelihood.

"I signed up to the APMA course out of curiosity, and I ended up gaining the necessary know-how, and then also the will, to throw myself into this activity," said Ms Djoudi, who confirms she can now earn a living through the honey produced by her hives.

Said Mr Mohand Ouamer Ould Braham, president of APMA: "Beekeeping has become a true vocation and source of income for all the women trained through our association, though none of them would ever have thought themselves capable of setting up their own farm one day."

Based in Ain el Hammam, 45km to the south-east of Tizi Ouzou (150km to the east of Alger), APMA set up its first Apiary School project in Djurdjura in 2010 with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme and the Association for Solidarity, Migration and Exchanges for Development (Asmed).

Mr Ould Braham said the methods taught are those that emphasise environmental values and sustainable development, ensuring an organic product.

It is a region known for its honey. Close to 4,700 beekeepers have been counted in the province of Tizi Ouzou, and the vast majority of these holdings have been set up in the mountains. Honey production came close to 500 quintals (or 25,401kg) last year.

No fewer than 18 women have set up their own farms, thanks to hives provided by Asmed.

APMA is now spreading its work out towards all sectors of mountain agriculture, with other training courses being offered by professionals in areas such as cattle farming, poultry farming and rabbit keeping.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'How sweet it is to bee sustainable'. Print Edition | Subscribe