Enjoy this post from Zhuoya Lu, the Fairtrade Liaison Officer in China. Lu attended the 2013 General Assembly of the Jiyuan Huakang Beekeeper Professional Association (JHBPA) and presented a workshop on Fairtrade to the group.
Meet Chaogun Cui (left) and Yonghe Wei from JHBPA. In November I joined 242 beekeepers from different regions gathered in Jiyuan, China, for the association’s annual general assembly.
The chairman of JHBPA presented a report on the past year and the 2014 work plan. It had been a difficult year with bad weather in the summer and low yields and quality. Hoping to keep up motivation for the next year, JHBPA gave out awards for the best quality of organic honey, the highest yield, and highest average production (per beehive). Some beekeepers, like Yonghe, received more than 2000 Yuan (450 Euros).
“2013 was a good year for me. With 15 tonnes of production, I received the award for highest total production and highest average production per beehive. I’m happy,” said Yonghe Wei, who manages 150 beehives with his wife.
“At the end of year, we plan to travel to Hubei to raise bees there and wait until next spring’s blooming season. The beekeeping is hard work, we spend almost ten months per year outdoors and often spend the Chinese spring festival far away from our families.”
Chaoqun Cui, the other beekeeper in the photo, is the youngest in the association at 21 years of age. He follows in his father’s footsteps, also a member of association.
“Beekeeping is different from farming, the know-how is very important. Besides that, the climate and the location also determine the final production,” Cui said.
He wants to learn more from his father. He now owns 86 beehives. Cui is satisfied with his annual income of around 50 000 Yuan (6250 Euros) because he still lives with his parents and doesn’t have many expenses for daily life.
The association is a stable buyer for him and the price offered is quite good. He sells some honey to individuals, but he sells most of the product to the association.
The chairman of JHBPA explained to me that they plan to spend this year’s Premium money on beekeeping medicine and beehives for members, and some to pay the Fairtrade certification fee. Next year’s work will focus on the price fixing, improvement of product quality, and reducing the risk involved with production.