NATION

Fong Keeps Beekeeping Alive In Lautoka’s Koroipita

Janet Fong runs the Koroipita’s Enterprise Development officer adding that beekeeping is a field that has seen her and other women earn a stable income.
14 Aug 2022 13:57
Fong Keeps Beekeeping Alive In Lautoka’s Koroipita
Janet Fong.

A Koroipita, Lautoka, resident said women should not limit themselves to reach their goals.

Janet Fong runs the Koroipita’s Enterprise Development officer add­ing that beekeeping is a field that has seen her and other women earn a stable income.

The 35-year-old said while beekeep­ing can be a tough field given the process involved in terms of physi­cal labour, with careful manage­ment women can succeed in it.

“In the heat, we wear a protective suit which is already heavy and then we have to carry the heavy boxes with frames, broods and honey in it.

“That’s why men normally do bee­keeping but women should never limit themselves,” she said.

Koroipita Fiji’s honey.

Koroipita Fiji’s honey.

Ms Fong works as an enterprised development officer for the Model Towns Charitable Trust which pro­vides social housing for low-income earning families at Koroipita, Lau­toka, and also pursues beekeeping.

“I joined beekeeping with zero knowledge and what keeps me going is the passion for bees and its con­tribution to the environment,” she said.

“Beekeeping first started here around 2011 but when I moved to Ko­roipita in 2017, the beekeeping pro­ject was already established.

“I first had the fear of being stung by the bees but now I have developed a passion where I look forward to be­ing among the bees and I think it’s great for our immune system.”

Through beekeeping, she has as­sisted fellow beekeepers in diversi­fying the Koroipita Honey business through training on bee wax value-added products.

“We’ve learned how to make wax wraps, candles and if we go into that we can add more honey-based products in addition to producing honey,” the mother of four children said.

This venture has yielded income generating benefits for the women.

She has also developed many skills over the four years she has been into beekeeping.

“Learning to make decisions un­der pressure, lead by example, mul­titask, improved my planning and fi­nancial skills and most importantly I learned the technical beekeeping skills which are somewhat scien­tific,” she said.

“We need to make sure the hives are fully sealed before we can har­vest the honey, sometimes it de­pends on the strength of the hives, the weather conditions like if it’s wet weather, we cannot harvest to avoid moisture content in the hon­ey.”

“The beekeeping project is an em­ployment opportunity for us in the community. Some women are very skillful and they do masi (screen printing) making or weaving but I am a proud beekeeper.”

 

Challenges

The greatest challenge she faced as a beekeeper was when the Ameri­can foul brood virus affected part of the 28-bee hives in 2020.

“We lost 21 hives and now we have only seven hives left, so we are work­ing on restoring that number. We harvested 536kg of honey back in 2018 but we went down to 105 kg in 2020 after the American Foulbrood affected our hives,” she said.

“This project is a great example of how if women are given a chance, they can use their skills to break out of the cycle of poverty.”

She hopes to start her own bee-keeping business one day.

Feedback: salote.qalubau@fijisun.com.fj



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