The Mezhenger are found in the South eastern Gambella bordering Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples State. The Mezhenger are the third largest ethnic group in the region with 4% of the Gambella population. The Mezhenger weredas are Godere and Mengesh. The Gambella coffee plantation is found in the Mezhenger woredas (districts).
Honey production is the major livelihood of the inhabitants of Mejenger people. They drive honey products from forest resources of the area. The communities maintaining the traditional beehives in the forest since the forest flora provides a good source of food for bee. If the honey production is upgrading from traditional beehives to modern one, the production amount and quality can be enhanced and it helps for development of agro-industry in the area and also the communities’ income will be improved through establishing honey bee cooperatives.
In the Gilo sub basin of the Gambella regional state the Mejengir zone which comprises (Godere and Mengeshi) district is also among the ideal potential area for beekeeping, as it is blessed with a diversity of intact natural vegetation of typical tropical rain forest, and having cultivated crops such as cereals ( Maize, Sorghum), horticultural crops(Citrus, Mango, Papaya, Avocado, Banana, Coffee …etc) and also rich in other conducive biophysical environments(water availability, ideal weather condition, rain fall and altitude).
The beekeeping activities in the two districts are not without problems among which the following can be mentioned: Deforestation is widely exercised and the combination of true honey plants are on declining trend because of shifting cultivation that may be a potential threat in the future. Almost all beekeepers in the sub basin are performing the beekeeping activities on traditional and individual basis and lack (organized body, beekeeping equipments, training, and other inputs).
Bee diseases, pests and predators are also the major problems reported by the producers/beekeepers. Market infrastructure is also another bottle neck to supply their produce including honey to the nearest market centers, so that they sale on farm gate price without the prevailing correct market price information.
On the other hand beekeeping is also exercised in the lower sub basin producers by Agnua ethnic group around eastern part of Gog district in a lesser extent. However, the production and productivity is not up to expected due to different factors, among which periodic and massive burning of vegetation including honey flora causes the destruction and drying up of nectar and pollen grains
In addition the following are also among the limitation which may reduces beekeeping performance in the lower sub basin area. Due to high heat from bush fire coupled with high temperature honey bee combs will be melted which leads to absconding of the entire colony. Dehydration and death of larvae in the hive has been also observed during the survey due to fire and high temperature during peak dry season of the year. Burning of vegetation also may causes loss of the water from the soil that may disrupt the normal physiological activity of honey plants to bloom in the vicinity and fail to produce nectar and pollen.
Beekeeping is a very important and long standing practice in the farming communities of the sub basin in general and Mejengir communities in particular. Despite this long tradition of beekeeping and untapped resource potential of the area, productivity remain low, that need, efficient bee resource extension package development along with other agricultural activities, input supply, organizing the producers and capacity building, linking with good marketing opportunities of their produce are some of the paramount important issues towards, improving or raising the living standards of the beekeepers and national economy at large.
On the other hand as beekeeping is a sustainable form of agriculture that is beneficial to the environment and provides economic reasons for the retention of natural habitat and also potentially increase yield from food and forage crops, this sub sector should be encouraged.
Given the availability of diverse honey bee flora in the area, and sufficient rain fall and humidity, one of the major problems of honey produced from the traditional beehive in southwestern part of the country is its high moisture content that may reduce its quality that can be solved by switching to modern beehive production. Thus to increase productivity and improve quality of the honey and avoid the risk of falling the bee keepers from the tree while managing traditional beehive, encouraging the producers through extension training towards adopting modern bee hive production is inevitable to increase the quality, increase honey production and save their time and loss of life.