The Future is Equal

Papua New Guinea

It’s my dream to continue this work

Photo: Patrick Moran/OxfamAUS

“To the Australians and New Zealanders who are donating their money to support this work, it’s really touching the lives of the rural people. And that’s what I like to see. When you support people it brings joy to your heart.”

Oxfam is working alongside Kelly Inae, who owns Mountain Honey, and supporting him to provide training, advice and affordable equipment to rural beekeepers as part of a four year livelihoods project in Papua New Guinea.

“In a year of working with Oxfam I’ve trained almost 80 people. I supply them with my bee boxes and train them. They can bring their honey to me and I pay them in cash. This is greatly helping their living standards.

“I have managed to help all of these people through the support that Oxfam has given me. I am happy about this.”

The support that Kelly provides beekeepers across PNG means that many of them now generate enough of an income to support their families’ and save for the future.

“It motivates me to look at families and friends who have been able to build houses. It’s my dream to continue this work. In the future someone will say, ‘This house was built from honey money’ and I will love hearing that.

“Honey money giving people a house, honey money giving people an education, and honey money uplifting their living standards.

“I would like to say thank you to the Oxfam team who are supporting work in Papua New Guinea. I have been able to travel with Oxfam into areas where they are working here and I have seen a lot of things that are being done to help the community and it’s just amazing.”

This work is part of Oxfam’s HARVEST project – read more about it here.

*This project is partly supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Creating a buzz for Highlands’ honey producers

An innovative small company is creating a buzz in Papua New Guinea this week as it launches a mobile support service for local beekeepers in the Eastern Highlands Province.

The New Guinea Fruit bee extension team. From left: Justin James, Wilson Tomato, Sally Watson, Solomon Loie, Kereve Hagu. Photo: David Shields / Oxfam 

An innovative small company is creating a buzz in Papua New Guinea this week as it launches a mobile support service for local beekeepers in the Eastern Highlands Province. New Guinea Fruit has partnered with international development agency Oxfam in PNG to help beekeepers increase honey production and income for their families, in a public-private project co-funded by New Guinea Fruit, Oxfam New Zealand and the New Zealand Aid Programme.

The joint project will see New Guinea Fruit (NGF) set up a ‘honey hotline’ for registered beekeepers to call for technical advice, as well as employ full-time extension officers and provide a dedicated vehicle to replenish beekeeping supplies and connect remote rural regions to the market. NGF buys honey direct from beekeepers in the village, reducing the cost and difficulties for rural people to access distant markets.

“The ‘honey hotline’ is a major innovation in how extension services are provided to remote communities in PNG,” said David Shields, Livelihoods Programme Manager for Oxfam in PNG. “Together with the dedicated extension services provided by New Guinea Fruit, this will really help rural families earn a living through beekeeping.”

New Guinea Fruit produces the Highlands Honey brand and has been supporting beekeepers in the Highlands for over 15 years, despite dwindling production levels. Sally Watson, director of New Guinea Fruit says access in and out of remote rural regions is critical to the success of the local industry.

“One of the main reasons we have kept on buying honey is out of loyalty to the rural beekeepers who have continued to produce over the years. There is a big demand for honey across PNG, and we think that one of the missing links at the moment is apiculture extension services and access to buyers.”

David Shields from Oxfam agrees: “Oxfam’s research into the PNG honey industry shows a large domestic and international demand which isn’t being met. Honey has provided a strong income for rural farmer families for many years, but they have not had much support to improve their skills, and honey production has decreased over the years. If it wasn’t for honey buyers like New Guinea Fruit, and the trainings provided by the government, the industry would have died by now.”

Apiculture expert and head of the New Guinea Fruit extension team Wilson Tomato sees more reasons for extension work. “We are facing new challenges with climate change and new bee diseases impacting PNG bees, so it is important we work together with our farmers to educate them and face these new problems. Bees are also very important to all agriculture activities because they pollinate coffee as well as other food crops. It is critical to maintain a good bee population in our country.”

Shields agrees. “We hope these services will complement the ongoing work of the government to grow the apiculture industry in the Highlands and across the country. Together, we can help rural farmer families increase their income, and provide Highlands’ honey to tables across PNG.”