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It may seem unlikely, but Juanda decided to become a bee keeper in a rural part of Indonesia thanks to social media.

Inspired by a friend in 2014 who had imported the stingless kelulat bees to Java, Juanda wanted to start producing his own honey in Indonesia’s Siak Regency, but didn’t know where to start.

Juanda and kelulut honey
Juanda is now ready to produce more kelulut honey

“I decided to try keeping the bees myself too, even though I had no knowledge whatsoever about honeybee cultivation at first,” said Juanda.

An oil palm farmer by trade, Juanda looked online for information and discovered a Facebook post from a user about how to cultivate the bees.

“I thought that this person – who I found out was from Malaysia - really understands kelulut honey.

“On his Facebook page, he explained a lot about the benefits of kelulut honey and it looked very promising, which made me interested to try cultivating the bees,” Juanda shared.

He started chatting with his new friend online until, armed with his new knowledge, he started building hives for his future bee colonies. But it proved to be more challenging than he had expected.

“I prepared 200 hives, but they were a massive failure. These beehives remained empty,” said Juanda.

Eventually he solved the problem by searching the forest for naturally-occurring nests, then transferring pieces to his own hives.

Juanda’s struggle in developing honey production caught the attention of Syamsuar, the Mayor of Siak.

After visiting Juanda’s honey farm, Syamsuar referred him to Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (PT RAPP), which helps entrepreneurs and small businesses as part of its community development program.

Juanda shared that his lack of knowledge in bee cultivation was a major obstacle for him, as his only source of information had been his Malaysian friend’s social media account.

To solve the problem, PT RAPP sent Juanda for five days of training in Selangor, Malaysia – known for its honey production – where he visited established farms and learned more about the industry.

“In Selangor, they have a community which cultivates Kelulut honey. When the honey is processed, it can be transformed into herbal medicines, drinks, or other products. Then the product is packaged nicely and marketed as a local product or souvenir from that country,” said Syamsuar.

Mahmud Hasyim, of PT RAPP’s Community Development team, said educating entrepreneurs is an important way to help boost the local economy and spread knowledge. “Training and comparative studies are expected to enrich the knowledge of participants, who can then disseminate it to others,” he said.

According to Mahmud, the Kelulut honey produced by farmers like Juanda has been valued at IDR 500,000 per litre, and one harvest can fetch up to 20 litres of honey.

So far, Juanda’s honey has been distributed to places in Indonesia including Surabaya and Tangerang. By partnering with RAPP, he hopes to be able to further improve his honey business in the future, and also for honey to be a beneficial source of livelihood for his community.

 

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