Bonga, Kaffa Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, Ethiopia is in the heart of the organic forest honey and coffee region. Located in the highlands at seven degrees north latitude, the region produces ample amounts of product from the surrounding forests. Apinec Agro-Industry purchases raw, hand-crushed honey and beeswax from two thousand area farmers. They process and pack honey and beeswax along with coffee and spices for export. Apinec requested that I train their employees to produce additional products from the honey, beeswax, and propolis collected from the Kaffa bee hives. I conducted a series of training sessions similar to those conducted by the Tennessee Beekeepers Association across the state of Tennessee. In both cases the purpose was the same: to make beekeeping more sustainable by expanding the number of products available for sale. Numerous products can be produced based upon beeswax and honey.
Through an Amharic language interpreter, I demonstrated how to produce beeswax candles, hand and skin lotions, lip glosses, and other cosmetic products. A student repeated the steps to verify accurate translation and understanding. Having a rich supply of vegetable oils, spices, and essential oils, Ethiopia is well suited for producing such products. I also provided the Apinec processors with formulas and procedures to produce other products from leather conditioners to furniture polish. The technology for producing each of the products is relatively simple, so start-up of manufacturing products should begin fairly soon. The first attempts by the student processors resulted in very presentable packaged products. The appearance, texture, and fragrance were very nice. To get some feedback on the appeal of the products, we gave samples to five ladies. Each of the five reported that they were not comfortable with the feel of the product on their lips. This proved to be an important marketing test of the product, which will now be reformulated with beeswax and other Ethiopian oils. Apinec’s venture into producing other products from the bee hive is a first for Ethiopia.--Richard