Sunday, September 2, 2012

Up in the Air


It’s a long trip from East Arkansas to East Africa. Rita drops me off at Memphis International Airport. Inside the terminal, a television producer notices my khaki clothes, good for hiding dirt when unable to wash clothes for extended periods, and my stack of airline tickets leading to the Horn of Africa. She explains that she’s making a program featuring interesting usage of environmental resources by non-profit agencies. My assignment sounds like a good fit for her program, so we agree to discuss my work training beekeepers in Ethiopia after I return to the states. The four segments of the lengthy flight offer opportunities to meet other travelers. One lady, working for a Chinese automobile equipment maker is traveling from the United States to Budapest, Hungary to study manufacturing to return the work to the US. From Detroit to Amsterdam we discuss Chinese and Indian investment in Ethiopia’s infrastructure and American investment in Ethiopia’s agriculture and food security.

I meet a physician working with the Centers for Disease Control in Ethiopia. With hours of time to share on the long flight from Amsterdam to Khartoum and then to Addis Ababa, we discuss health matters for the Ethiopian people. Sanitation is a major concern for the physician; the life expectancy of Ethiopians is estimated at 48 to 51 years. Periodic droughts have brought famines in recent years. I explain that my work in training beekeeper farmers is designed to increase food security. By improving the quality of honey the farmers produce, they can increase their income, sometimes doubling their family’s earnings. I explain how much of the honey produced in developing countries is used to produce mead, or honey wine; and I tell of our earlier project producing Ethiopia’s mead, tej. The physician tells me that he knows the microbiologist well who worked with me on the tej project, having been in his classes in medical school. Today’s photo: Me and my Oromifa interpreter, Tucho, at Shambu, Ethiopia.
--Richard

4 comments:

  1. a small world exposed in your travels across the huge globe.

    looking greatly forward to your next post!

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  2. this is interesting to me. currently I am preparing my project paper to start my commercial apiary. if any one interested we can make it together, but my point is how can i evaluate the carrying capacity or potential of the specific area?

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  3. Mr. Wondwosen,
    I believe that you can determine the carrying capacity of an apiary from experience gained from past usage of the area for beekeeping. This experience may be gained by you over time, or it may be shared by others who have kept bees in the area. Keep in mind that Ethiopia has diverse geographic areas with specific flowering plants and varied climates. You will need to compare bee hive density in an area near to your proposed apiary which has similar nectar sources.

    Honey bees typically forage an area four kilometers in every direction around your apiary. Be aware that grazing by livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and goats, may significantly decrease the amount of low-growing flowering bee forage plants in the bees’ forage area. Your careful planning will help prevent problems such as starvation or absconding during periods of nectar dearth. Best wishes.
    --Richard

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