Friday, August 31, 2012

From Proctor to Shambu

I give all of my bee hives a quick check to make sure that they are healthy, queenright, and stacked with enough honey supers to accommodate the end of the summer’s nectar flow. I will leave Proctor for a few weeks. A request to train beekeeping trainers sends me back on another volunteer assignment to Ethiopia on a USAID-funded trip to this land where almost every farm includes bee hives. Two days of flying from Memphis to Detroit to Amsterdam to Khartoum, and then to Addis Ababa brings me to the Winrock International field office. Here, in Ethiopia’s capital city, I meet my host, Guta Abdi, the founder and managing director of the Non-Governmental Organization, Education For Development Association (EFDA). An early morning start takes Guta, me, and our trusted driver, Jotte, through volcano-laced Ethiopian highlands of the Oromia Region to the mountain-top town of Shambu. Travelling by truck in Africa’s rainy season is completely different from my travels during the dry season. In February, I experienced brown fields and blinding dust; in August, I face lush green fields and muddy, sometimes washed-out roads. At one point a broad, shallow rain-swollen river rushes over our dirt road.

From Shambu, I visit farms and educational projects of the EFDA. I train leaders of seven beekeeping self-help groups. Those individuals attending my training sessions are all seasoned beekeepers selected to spread their skills among farmers in their home areas. Having a varied terrain, Ethiopia is considered a semi-tropical land. Ethiopia’s honey bees exhibit different behaviors from by bees in America’s Mid-South due to seasonal differences in climate and the flowering of plants. I come to Ethiopia hoping to offer these seasoned beekeepers some outside ideas to consider adding to their endemic beekeeping knowledge handed down from generation to generation over thousands of years. I know that I will learn much from them. Today’s picture is a view from Winrock International’s field office in Addis Ababa where taxis share wet streets with cattle.