The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has engaged the Green Solutions Agriculture Training Center (GSAFTC) for its beekeeping project in the Mount Hamiguitan Sanctuary.
The Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) aims to improve the production of its honey business at its farms in Brgys. San Isidro and General Generoso, Davao Oriental.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) has been signed between the MHRWS Protected Area Management Board and GSAFTC to extend their collaboration on trainings, marketing promotional work, experimentation and technology demonstration on the beekeeping.
The Beekeeping Livelihood Program is a special project called “Beekeeping as a Biodiversity Friendly Community Enterprise in the MHRWS” of DENR within the framework of forest conservation.
Mount Hamiguitan is a wildlife sanctuary recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). It is home to globally threatened flora and fauna, 8 of which are found only in Mount Hamiguitan.
The beekeeping project at Mount Hamiguitan ensures the surrounding communities have a livelihood so that they do not resort to illegal logging activities around Mount Hamiguitan, according to the DENR.
Beekeeping is also known to have the very important function of “pollination” in the ecosystem, improving the environmental balance. It contributes to the rapid generation of forest reserves.
The government sees good market potential for bee products (pollen, propolis, beeswax and value added products including honey wine, honey and propolis soap, massage oil, shampoo and pomade). The Philippines currently imports honey, but local producers may soon be able to meet the country’s needs.
The beekeeping project is funded by the DENR Special Project Fund, which is overseen by the Foreign Aid and Special Projects Service (FASPS).
The project has already identified two potential expansion sites in Sto Rosario, San Isidro and Macambol, city of Mati.
The project was forced to transfer the beekeeping activity to the GSAFTC site which serves as a recovery area for the propagation of bee colonies. This erratic weather caused the infestation of small hive beetles which resulted in the decline of bee colonies.
Part of the aim of the project is to propose local policies on biodiversity-friendly businesses and sustainable honey production. As such, an ordinance for the preservation, habitat protection and collection of bee products from the wild has been drafted in collaboration with the legislative members of the municipal and barangay levels, Davao Oriental State University, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and municipal tourist offices.
The DTI and the Department of Science and Technology also provided training on the handling and packaging of bee products for project beneficiaries.
Mount Hamiguitan is strictly protected as it faces threats of land conversion for agriculture. There are also mining threats outside the site.
The DENR said it is now tackling the potential risks of climate change and increased tourism.
“The combination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the boundaries of the property and the large number of species that inhabit each make the MHRWS a total of 1,380 species with 341 species endemic to the Philippines,” UNESCO said.