A virtual event was organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 20th May on World Bee Day to commemorate the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems, also highlighting pollinator experts and practitioners from across the world. Working closely with TIP and its Indigenous Peoples Pollinators Network, NESFAS. prepared and designed the presentation given by Daniel Kobei, Founder, Ogiek Peoples’ Development Program (OPDP), Mau Forest, Kenya as a representative of TIP.
In his presentation “Local Bees and Indigenous Peoples-Upholders of Nature-positive Food Systems,” Daniel Kobei shared that honey is considered necessary for the Ogiek community in terms of food, nutrition, medicine, livelihoods and cultural practice.
“I was brought up as an indigenous person and as an indigenous person it’s not that I learned but I grew with the bees” expressed Daniel Kobei, OPDP, Kenya.
He also stressed the importance of local bees that are found in the Meghalaya region. It was also mentioned that more than 60% of the honey in the Indian market comes from traditional wild honey gatherers of Rock bees.
The Khasi community of Meghalaya also uses local log hives to collect honey and wax and to withstand civets’ attacks. The issue was also raised whereby the spread of broom grass cultivation has affected the pollination in fallow areas which leads to disruptions of honey production.
The event emphasized certain issues – how the spread of industrial agriculture has brought about a threat to pollinators and there has been an increased loss of biodiversity. Apart from the loss of indigenous bees, it has also affected the ancestral rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
A Researcher from Oxford University gave an example how they used they used the traditional knowledge of a local community in Africa of the fear of elephants of local bees to design protection systems to keep elephants out of human habitats.
“The way forward is to celebrate the role of the bees and Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems in a way to defend the ancestral and collective rights of the IPPN and to influence and involve young people to strengthen and uphold local bees for nature-based well being.” concluded Daniel Kobei.