Farmer-led innovation in Moreau

During a trip to the village of Moreau in January 2019, the farmers showed us their fledgling beekeeping operations on their farms. Citadel, the head of the farmers’ association, offered to sell us honey and beeswax from the ~20 hives on his land and connect us with other new beekeepers in the area. Many farmers who have started keeping bees are self-taught or have received some training/equipment from NGOs; they are interested in adding more beehives and investing in more equipment than they currently have access to. The farmers recognize that raising bees promotes sustainable agriculture in their community.

In June 2019, we returned to the village to learn more about the environmental impact of bees in the region and connect with more beekeepers. This farmer-led agricultural innovation helped us launch our Amour, Moreau and Bee Good, Do Good products. We believe that pollination with purpose supports sustainable, profitable agriculture in rural Haiti.

Why are bees important in Haiti?

Over the last several decades, the global bee population has steadily declined. This poses a significant threat to global food security, since 70 of the 100 most important crops that humans consume (representing 90% of the world’s nutrition) directly rely on pollination to grow and produce food.

There is a lack of research about bee populations specific to Haiti — however, based on what information we can find and information we have received from our partner farmers, we are aware of challenges for pollinators in Haiti as well. Soil erosion, deforestation, and habitat destruction, sparked by colonization and the resulting natural resource exploitation, have likely impacted bees habitats and food sources. The intentional care and keeping of bee populations ensures that these valuable insects stay and thrive where they are needed in rural Haiti; this supports Haitian farmers as they invest in sustainable agriculture and grow their economic opportunities.

The benefits of beekeeping in Haiti

Helping bees thrive

Decreased habitat destruction
Larger and more stable colonies
Reliable food supply for bees

Improving food production and soil health

Increased crop yields and more stable production
Less deforestation due to increased value of flowering trees
Less soil erosion since valuable crops and trees stay in the ground

Supporting community-led development

Stable supply of nutritious food
New income source for farmers
Able to invest in community infrastructure

Exporting honey and beeswax from Moreau, Haiti

There are local buyers for honey in Haiti and we encourage the farmers we work with to seek out diverse markets to ensure income stability; however, due to washed-out mountain roads and limited transportation options, these markets are often hard to access and have limited income potential. Instead, our partner farmers now have the opportunity to sell bulk honey to us for slightly more than market value; this compensates the farmers sustainably and fairly for their work, without risk of disrupting local trade.

The larger opportunity for the beekeepers we work with, like Casty and Citadel, is to sell beeswax outside of Haiti. Currently, the farmers have not found buyers of beeswax products locally. By selling this high-quality beeswax to us for our Bee Good, Do Good products, the farmers have a new, reliable source of income that won’t impact existing local trade relationships. The versatility of beeswax also ensures that we can develop countless natural products to sell in Minnesota and beyond; this grows our partnership and collaborative investments in sustainable agriculture.

FAQs

We often get questions about how the farmers in Moreau keep bees, as well as best practices for bee product consumption in general. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with additional questions: info@vetierafairtrade.com

How is the honey processed after it leaves the hive?
Our raw honey is only filtered to remove impurities – not pasteurized or processed in any other way. The honey is filtered through a double strainer, but there is still nutritious pollen in the honey, contrary to what most large companies do.
Why does our honey taste different from local or store-bought honey?
The bees raised on Casty and Citadel’s farms pollinate citrus trees, subsistence crops, and other plants around the village. Because these bees typically pollinate coconut, lime, lemon, orange, mango, passion fruit, meringa, breadfruit, and other fruit trees, the honey from Moreau has a distinctly citrus taste and scent. This honey is also special because the bees often build hives in and pollinate campeche (logwood) trees, which are famous for the rich tasting honey they produce in other Caribbean countries. Bees are an important part of food production in Moreau, since they also pollinate many of the crops that the community relies on for consumption.
Is honey vegan?
Whether vegans can or should consume honey is contested and depends on personal preferences. Knowing that purchasing sustainably raised honey helps support bee populations, some vegans choose to eat honey, while others prefer not to.
Is it safe for infants and toddlers to eat honey?
Per CDC guidelines, we advise that raw honey is not safe for infants under one year old. Read more on the CDC site about how to prevent food-based illnesses for infants and toddlers.