Dr. Hiras Sidabutar[1]
Eureka Zatnika[2]
Ade Bagja Hidayat[3]
Wahju Rudianto[4]

1. Introduction

1.1. Background information on the project
ITTO Project PD 777/15 Rev. 3 (F) entitled “Accelerating the Restoration of Cibodas Biosphere Reserve (CBR) Functions through Proper Management of Landscapes Involving Local Stakeholders” is currently under implementation by Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park (GGPNP) Agency starting September 2018, planned for 36 months. Its specific objective is to improve conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems of CBR through implementation of the Integrated Strategic Management Plan (ISMP) develop under the previous, completed ITTO Project.

The specific objective is to be achieved through delivery of 3 outputs, namely: i) threat on biodiversity in the core area (of CBR) significantly reduced, ii) land use best practices in CBR buffer and transition zones demonstrated and promoted, and iii) institutional arrangements for CBR management enhanced.

Output 2, that deals with land use best practices will be delivered through implementation of 5 relevant activities, two of which, i.e. Activities 2.2 and 2.4, deal with local livelihood development: Activity 2.2 on identification and development of livelihood models while Activity 2.4 on training of local people on skills needed to develop identified livelihood models. In effort, Activity 2.2 is the user of skillful people trained under Activity 2.4.

1.2. Background information on CBR
When CBR was proclaimed by UNESCO in June 1977, based on the proposal of the Government of Indonesia, its extent was only 108,000 Ha in total, comprising 15,196 Ha of GGPNP as the core area; 12,700 Ha of buffer zone; and 80,000 Ha of transition area. In 2012, the Government of Indonesia expanded the CBR area to 187,000 Ha which now consists of 24,500 Ha of GGPNP; 54,800 Ha of buffer zone; and 87,700 Ha of transition area.
It is to be noted at this juncture that a big chunk of the land area added to the core area was formerly managed by Perum Perhutani as a production forest involving a large number of farmers under the so called “collaborative forest management” using agroforestry system. The immediate problem of this change in forest function from production to conservation was that former farmers on the production forest land have now to stop farming activity on the land. Resolving this problem has been a big challenge to GGPNP Agency, i.e. how to develop sources of livelihood for local people in general, for former partner farmers in particular, in order to preserve their support to CBR conservation.

1.3. Rationale for promoting local livelihood models in CBR area
Based on empirical evidence, decision makers, managers, experts, researchers and the like have come to realize that conservation of biodiversity and forest ecosystems will only be successful if local stakeholders, notably local communities, support the initiatives and local communities are ready to support if they are given incentive in the form of decent, sustainable livelihood. In fact, most, if not all, villagers are entering conservation forest only for one reason: to make living by planting crops or collecting forest products, which entails risk. The villagers are willing to stop entering the forests if alternative sources of income are available outside the forest.
The GGPNP Agency has been to the extent possible, striving to engage local people in conservation management operations, but can only accommodate limited number of them. In the buffer zone alone, there are 65 villages that the Agency has been assisting in developing their sources of income. Now, with the assistance of ITTO, through implementation of Activities 2.2 and 2.4 of the on-going project as mention above, the GGPNP Agency and Forest Farmers Groups (KTHs) of six villages are running six livelihood models. One of the models, the bee honey business, is the topic dealt with by this article in the sections that follow.

2. Approach to developing the livelihood models

Development of the livelihood models in CBR area has undergone a number of steps, including:
i. To collect information on social, cultural and economic aspects of the people residing in 65 villages of the buffer zone for purpose of detecting source and level of income, working capacity and experience, level of dependence on the park as source of income and need for external assistance;
ii. To conduct dialogue with local people to learn on their preference and expectation of assistance;
iii. To develop a short list of villages that most in need of assistance based on the information obtained from above steps;
iv. To invite short listed villages to develop proposals on desired livelihood projects with the assistance of nearest park extension officers; salient features of a proposal were defined by the project to guide proponents;
v. To select six best proposals using the following criteria:

• A proposal was developed by a forest farmer group (KTH) representing the village in the buffer zone
• Proposing village was poor, located at proximity of the park and relied on the park as a source of income
• Most villagers were former farmers of Perum Perhutani Co.Ltd
• Significant portion of project inputs such as land and raw materials were locally available
• Product(s) of proposed project were locally marketable
• Quick yielding project in order to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic time
• Requested capital investment was affordable by the project

vi. Based on the types of project selected, to conduct training on skills needed to develop the selected projects. It turned out that the six livelihood models selected were: 4 sheep breeding and fattening models at 4 different villages, one bee-honey business model and one homestay business model. Therefore, the training conducted under Activity 2.4 was on skills pertaining to sheep, bee honey and homestay livelihood models;
vii. To refine the design of selected livelihood models correspond to the maximum amount of seed funds that could be supported by the project;
viii. To select bee species to raise based primarily on honey production capacity in terms of quality and quantity, and bee living requirements;
ix. To select a suitable site to raise be colonies by considering availability and diversity of flowering plants in the surrounding as well as stability of the land to construct hut and hive shelves; and
x. To construct hut for bees and hive shelves and initiate operation at a total investment of USD 3,850 for construction of hut and shelves (USD 1,300) harvesting tools (USD 430) and miscellaneous (USD 220).

3. The progress made

In the first instance in June 2020, after completing the construction work, 11 hives of Apis mellifera and 50 hives of Trigona laeviceps were installed under the supervision of a professional trainer. It was proved that the farmer group leader and members were able to apply the knowledge and skills they had learned in the classroom satisfactorily.
After one month, i.e. in July, the farmers have has rested the honey produced by the Trigona bees yielding nearly 10 liters or with a production capacity averaging 200 ml/hove/month. The honey was sold locally to park visitors and local inhabitants at a price of IDR 250,000 equivalent to USD 19 per liter, under the brand name “Madu Pangrango”. Note that “madu” is the Indonesian word of honey, while “Pangrango” is the name of one of the three mountains located inside the CBR. The proceeds from selling honey produced in the first month amounted to USD 190 in total.
Using the proceeds from honey selling, the LBC Lestari farmer group has able to add 250 bee hives after two months of operation. Now it is easy to imagine how lucrative the honey business is if managed professionally despite the tiny capital investment required to start the business.
As regards the Apis mellifera bees, the colonies produced, on average, 6 kilos/hive/month of honey, yielding a total volume of 65 kilos in the first month. Sold at around USD 8/kg, the proceeds from selling Apis honey in the first month was US 520. When entering the second month, honey production was disturbed by the presence of bee pest called Vespa sp., which killed large number of bees. As medical treatment was not successful, the cabin of Apis was moved to a place 5 kilos away from the initial site. Due to the potential problem by pest, no attempt has yet been made to add hives at the new site. The KTH LBC Lestari is now considering to focus only on Trigona honey unless the site is confirmed free of bee pest.

4. Potential impacts of bee honey business model

The immediate effect of the bee honey model is the attractive financial return as elaborated in the previous section in addition to generation of employment opportunity for KTH LBC Lestari group and for others.
Another great potential benefit of the business is closely tied with tourism industry because CBR area is a famous and preferred tourist destination. As observed during the first two months of operation, some visitors were interested in watching the on-site process on pure honey production. Some students of nearby schools have also indicated interest in bee honey learning and study. This potential market should be positively responded by the farmer group by developing appropriate educational tour package suited to different market niches.
Yet another potential benefit of bee honey business is on using bee to perform acupuncture like treatment for health caring. Some bee honey production houses have been promoting the use of bee sting for curing different such diseases as nerve malfunction, diabetes, obesity, etc. This market potential should be tapped by the farmer group by developing health caring tour packages in collaboration with experienced professionals. It should be noted however, that health treatment can be performed only with stingy bees such as Apis spp.

5. Closing remarks

The experience in running the bee honey business model during the first two months indicated that many community groups and villages in the CBR area are keen to get involved in the business; they have come to approach KTH LBC Lestari and also park officials searching for requirements for entering the business.
Therefore, it should not be surprising if a large number of individuals and groups are entering the bee honey industry in the near future. Replication of the model will then proceed naturally, driven by lucrativeness of the industry. It is lucrative indeed considering the small capital investment to start, the simple technologies in use and the great market potential. The implication for CBR conservation is two folds: i) more villagers will be employed by the industry thus less villagers will enter the forests to make living; and ii) the larger business benefits accrued to local stakeholders, the stronger their support will be to CBR conservation. Indeed, GGPNP Agency will be involved in the replication process by providing information on requirements to enter bee honey industry and controlling number of entering investors in order to avoid cut throat competition and excessive use of the available landscape.
In order to survive future tough competition, KTH LBC Lestari, as the pioneer in bee honey industry in CBR area, has to begin building up business competitiveness. To this end, it must make efficiency, quality and innovation as the heart of its business operation; by so doing, it should be able to survive sailing even a terrifying ocean of competition and stay as a leading player of the industry.


Photo credit by PMU ITTO PD 777/15 Rev. 3 (F)

[1] Project Advisor

[2] Bee Honey Expert

[3] Project Coordinator of ITTO PD 777/15 Rev. 3 (F)

[4] Director of Gunung Gede Pangrango National Park


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