Honey was the first sweet known in human consumption. Even the very early prehistoric men used honey as a natural source of carbonhydrates. Honey is widely used in pastries, bakings, as sweetener in tea and coffee and for breakfast. The honey from Sierra Leone comes from pesticide free farmlands across the country. Its aromatic and sweet flavour has already a growing fandom in Sierra Leone.
Various NGO´s are working on the development of the honey value chain and the marketing of the products.
The development agency FAO supported farmgroups who are involved in honeyproduction. 2 Groups were identified in the Koinadugu District; The farmer groups received intensive training on honeyproduction, health and hygenic conditions and food security. FAO installed propper buildings for small scale honey processing, Balmed supported the project with beekeeping equipment and apiculture tools. A challenging task is the sound labelling and packaging. Balmed uses glasses and designed labels to attract customers. The honey is available in assorted supermarkets across the country, especially Freetown.
The soil in Sierra Leone is very fertile. As soon as you drop a seed, it will germinate within few days. Balmed outplanted since 2009 over 1500 acres of new cocoa plantations in various districts. After the landagreements were done between the company and the farmer, nurseries for young cocoa seedlings were established. Since 2009 over 450.000 new cocoa trees have been outplanted under the Balmed Blockfarming© System. In cooperation with the University of Freetown all plantations have been GPS measured, to get the exact data, how many land each farmers is responsible for. After the GPS measuring all the land have been legal registered together with the Government of Sierra Leone.
In 2011 we had some interesting visitors. The german singer and Fairtrade supporter Annett Louisan came together with Dieter Overath, performing director of Fairtrade Germany and Wolfgang Jamann, director of WHH (german agro action), to visit the cocoa project. The delegation vivisted the farmers in their villages to check on the fair working conditions.
"Fairtrade can support cooperatives like MCGC with marketing. With the Fairtrade certification it is easier to have market access."
Said Dieter Overath, performing director of Fairtrade Germany. Hence the cooperative set up an internal control system with all its participating farmers, to guarantee fair labour conditions and preclude child labour. Currently all 7000 participating farmers are certified against the Fairtrade Code of Conduct.