“BEFORE we used to hide whenever we saw bees, but now the fear has vanished and we love chasing after the bees,” said Anju Radha Chauhan with a smile.
Formed in 2010, the Civicivi Maha Shakti Women’s Club is now well known in Civicivi settlement Drasa, Lautoka for the production of pure honey. The club comprising 12 dedicated housewives started the beekeeping farm in 2011 through the funding of $5000 provided by the Ministry of Women. These women have been trained in bee farming which was facilitated by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Last Friday, the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni, paid them a visit as per the request of the club. The members were dressed in their bee suits and gloves, waiting eagerly to demonstrate the step by step processes of their honey production. The agricultural students of Drasa Secondary School also took advantage of the event to learn about beekeeping and were amazed to see young women walking boldly with steel bee smokers and bee waxes.
While throwing light on the results of their bee project, Mrs Chauhan said they had made a profit after three harvests last year. She said the challenges they had encountered had not deterred them from progressing.
“From the three harvests, we saved more than $400 through which we will be buying three more beehives to replace the two hives which got damaged during Cyclone Evan. But even that didn’t discourage us in any way, we went ahead with the harvesting and were able to produce 20 kilograms of honey from each of the hives and each bottle of honey is sold at $15.
“From the revenue earned we were also able to donate some money and food items to the underprivileged families in our community,” Mrs Chauhan said.
“The honey fetches a good price in Lautoka market. We also get orders from a few commercial companies.
“The club is also engaged into activities like sewing sulu jaba, school uniforms, doormats and this has been possible through the two electrical sewing machines which have also been donated by the ministry.
“Today, the Civicivi women are proud to showcase their skills and achievements which has been possible through the Ministry of Women’s assistance. We are really glad to host Dr Luveni, she is the first minister to set foot on Civicivi soil, and her conversation with us today has deepened our courage to always work in unity and reach out to help more women who are in search of opportunities to improve their livelihood,” Mrs Chauhan said.
While going through the club’s financial records, Dr Luveni said the achievements were remarkable and portrayed the unprecedented effort of the club to ensure the sustainability of their project.
“I would like to thank you for this kind invitation to visit your community and I am very impressed with the results that have been achieved through your beekeeping project. After seeing your achievements, the ministry will further support this club to build a new women’s centre in Civicivi to facilitate the income-generating and women’s empowerment programs all under one roof.
“Economic empowerment of women through projects such as this enables them to develop their resources and help alleviate poverty in their communities and also make informed choices to improve the lives of their families,” Dr Luveni said.
“It becomes an eye-opener for the communities as well on the importance of women’s participation into economic development. The ministry hopes to create similar success stories on women’s potential and their achievements in Fiji.”
* Anshoo Chandra is the media liaison officer for the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women & Poverty Alleviation.