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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - US Students Bring Honey Project to Ghana

作者:June Simms 发布日期:6-29-2009

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

Some American students from Florida are bringing the business of beekeeping to farmers in a community in Ghana. The program, called the Honey Project, not only gives the students a chance to own and manage a business. It also gives them a chance to help ease poverty in Agogo through beekeeping and the sale of honey.

There are plenty of wild honeybees around Agogo, but there was no established market. A businessman named Nathan Burrell and some of his colleagues came up with the idea during a business trip to Agogo three years ago.

Nathan Burrell recruits student volunteers at one Agogo school to help gather and sell honey
Nathan Burrell recruits student volunteers at one Agogo school to help gather and sell honey

NATHAN BURRELL: "It was the ability to effect change and impact the lives of the people. As an entrepreneur and a business person you normally look at market movement. You look at what will sell and what's the most profitable venture to take on. And trust me, it wouldn't have been honey. But it was the fact that the honey had an opportunity to really change the lives of those people and provide them with a living wage."

Nathan Burrell says many of the farmers in Agogo earn less than a dollar a day. He calls the project an example of social entrepreneurship.

It began with the planting of ten to twelve beehives in the town. Nathan Burrell depended heavily on the beekeeping experience of Dan Warren. He heads an environmental group in Florida called One Village Planet that works in Ghana and Haiti. The Honey Project also partnered with an American company that sells African honey.

NATHAN BURRELL: "All the profits and proceeds that the students earned went back into the reinvestment of the Agogo venture, of really trying to plant more hives. I think there are over one hundred hives now that have been planted in the village."

Members of the group traveled to Agogo this spring to provide more education and training in the beekeeping business. They also brought protective clothes for the beekeepers and equipment to gather and package the honey.

Wearing protective hoods and suits, the American students help gather honey from one broken beehive
Wearing protective hoods and suits, the American students help gather honey from one broken beehive

The Honey Project currently sells a limited amount of honey in Ghana and the United States. The project also uses student volunteers in Agogo to gather and sell the honey. Nathan Burrell says it is not a profitable business yet, but the farmers are hopeful. And honey is not the only bee product they could sell.

NATHAN BURRELL: "Everything from the wax to the pollen to the royal jelly could be marketable and can add income and revenue generation to those cooperatives that we're working with."

For now, there are no plans to expand the business beyond Agogo. But the organizers in south Florida are looking to involve students around the United States.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts and MP3s of our reports are at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.

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