Educational bee Farms as a solution to mitigate climate change, protect the forest, save the bees and reduce poverty in the areas
A case study of Karuna VN with a Pivot at Vin tribal village
- Introduction on Karuna VN
“Forests raise bees, bees make honey, honey makes products that can be sold to generate economic income, thereby developing the mountain economy and creating more motivation for people to protect the forest.”
That is the sharing of Ms. Trinh Thi Hai Yen – Founder of Karuna Vietnam Social Enterprise about the moment she found Karuna’s development orientation and was able to help people in the mountains after more than 2 years of traveling. close to many areas in Thanh Hoa province.
Karuna is a honey farming and trading model combined with an ecological education model starting in December 2019, with the supply of honey from this local mountainous region. As a social enterprise, an innovative business model whose main purpose is to solve social problems by combining social and financial impact, Karuna Vietnam was also born. with its own goals. It is mitigating climate change, protecting forests, protecting bees, and improving the quality of upland education in a safe and healthy environment.
In particular, Karuna Vietnam also brings a different perspective and vision on the spirit, and mission of a social enterprise. That is the “World where everyone is compassionate”. Karuna in Sanskrit means compassion, the company is working to practice compassion in its culture, its partners, its community and the Earth. We demonstrate Karuna through our products and activities. Karuna hopes that through quality products from honey, businesses can spread compassion to many people, while helping local people develop their economy and give them the motivation to protect the forest.
There are 5 philosophies that Karuna Vietnam pursues:
Firstly, cooperation: Karuna collaborates with local people and villages to bring the Karuna forest honey ecosystem closer to a place where only 120 households live, creating more stable jobs for her child here.
Second, respect: Karuna respects and wants to preserve the national identities of the Black Thai people, respects, and loves Mother Nature when she wants to apply the model of eco-tours to experience bees and bring people closer to nature and villages.
Third, empathy: Karuna learn to empathize with our partners, colleagues, and Mother Nature. Understanding the thoughts and aspirations of the people here, bring the Karuna ecological model with the development of a small ethnic community, with a large mountain and forest ecosystem.
Fourth, accept: Accept Karuna are imperfect and accept our position for constant growth.
Fifth, Innovation & Creativity: Constantly listening to opinions from the community, partners, and inside the organization to promptly offer solutions to improve the organization.
With those philosophies, Karuna has always been one of the pioneering social enterprises in forest protection, bee protection, climate change reduction, and sustainable livelihood creation for local people. Specifically, Karuna has achieved the first success in building a wild bee ecosystem program in Ban Van, Bat Mot Commune, Thuong Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province – where the national forest is preserved. So, what is so special about this Railing and why is it the place that makes Karuna choose to be a bee spot? Details will be presented in the next parts.
- Overview of Vin and Duc tribal villages
Ban Vin is one of the most remote villages in Bat Mot commune, Thuong Xuan district, Thanh Hoa province 130km to the west, 70km from the center of Thuong Xuan district. If going from Thanh Hoa City, visitors will follow Highway 47 to the west to the center of Thuong Xuan district. Then turn right and go straight along Highway 47 to the Kheo border gate (Vietnam – Laos border gate) of Bat Mot. Visitors will have a natural forest trail experience. About 50km of forest road from Thuong Xuan town to Bat Mot commune with two sides of the road are deep green forests and winding passes. Ban Vin is located in the Xuan Lien nature reserve. This place is likened to the Amazon forest of Vietnam, containing many primeval natural forests from over a thousand years old, and rare animals are preserved.
However, Ban Vin is an isolated, poor place, people mainly work in agriculture, with 80% of households being poor, with an income of 32 million/year (compared to the current average Vietnamese income of 50 million people: 50,4 million VND/year). Because it is located on the border between Vietnam and Laos, to make a living, many households have grown opium poppies. Not only that, people’s awareness is still limited, there is no sense of forest protection, and there are actions to cut down forests and burn them for cultivation, or do not know much about the law being manipulated by loggers. According to statistics from 1/2023 up to now, the forest area managed by the Thuong Xuan protection forest management board accounts for 66% of the total number of violations in the district in the same period. The total area of destroyed forest is 2267m2 and the volume of damaged forest products is 14,418m3.
Because of that, the habitat of bees is seriously declining along with climate change, causing the number of bee species to decrease. They find it difficult to find a balanced diet and safe nesting areas, and fluctuating weather can alter stable seasonal temperatures, affect plants and flowers, and disrupt nesting cycles. annual natural pollination of bees. According to the European Red List, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, out of a total of nearly 2,000 species, 9.2% are at risk of extinction. Of these, about 5% of species are threatened in the near future. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says the biggest threat to wild bees is the serious damage to their habitats caused by human impacts such as deforestation, intensive farming, pesticide use, or climate change.
Not only that, the method of harvesting wild honey of the people is still traditional and contains many dangers. When people harvest honey, take all the honey, leading to, when the bee returns to the hive, it no longer has a nest, and the bee that lost the nest will die.
Realizing that problem, Karuna aims to build the Karuna ecological bee program to reduce climate pollution, protect bees and protect primeval forests. On the current Vi village, Karuna has recently brought 100 colonies of bees to the edge of Xuan Lien primeval forest in Bat Moi commune after successfully experimenting with 10 previous colonies. In the framework of the Karuna ecological bee program, Cam Thuy Bee Cooperative has sent a number of beehives to Vin village to transfer beekeeping techniques and generate sustainable income for the local community. Karuna also established a sustainable honey-hunting group that doesn’t take all the honey from the wild bees.
- Relationship among deforestation, climate change, bee population, and people living near Protected forests
As mentioned, Ban Van is an isolated, poor place, where the people are mainly engaged in agriculture. People’s income is mainly based on hunting and timber. In particular, deforestation is a serious problem, with about 10 million hectares of forest lost each year due to activities of logging for timber, setting up arable land, mining, and construction. In Vietnam, according to the “Vietnam Forestry Assessment Report” of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2020, our country has lost about 3 million hectares of forest in the period 1990-2015. Thus, people do not really attach importance to forest protection and animal rights, in fact, many people still consider these as limitless resources to exploit and use without regard to the possible negative consequences. People cut down forests and harvest honey, use chemicals or kill bees by beating them to death. Besides, beekeepers using pesticides and pesticides also seriously affect the health of bees and the quality of honey products. These drugs cause digestive, nervous, and immune system problems, leading to increased bee mortality and reduced efficiency in pollination. Toxic active ingredients can leach into honey, making the product poor quality and causing illness for users. The use of sustainable farming practices and raising public awareness of these issues is critical to addressing these issues.
Deforestation can cause climate changes that could jeopardize bee abundance (Papanikolaou et al. 2016), phenological synchronization (Stevenson et al., 2015 ) and daily activity patterns of pollinators (Rader et al. 2013), affect interaction networks (Hegland et al. 2009; Burkle et al. 2013) and force species to change range their micro-distribution (Bartomeus et al. 2013; Kerr et al. 2015). A United Nations report (2016) shows that globally about 40% of bee species are threatened with extinction, while the rate of bee decline in European countries such as France and Germany is about 30%, the US is about 30 – 40% (2018). In Vietnam, a study by the Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) in 2019 showed that the percentage of bees decreased from 14.4% to 95.2% in research areas across the country. The IceBerg model (McKiernan and Bacon, 1960) also suggests that the root cause for this problem comes from two main causes, which are people’s awareness and farming activities.
- From framework into action
Based on the theoretical framework, the core causes of these issues include two main factors: people’s awareness and farming practices. People do not value the protection of forests and animal rights, and many still see them as unlimited resources to exploit and use without considering the potential negative consequences. People cut down forests and harvest all the honey, burn forests to get honey, use chemicals, or even kill bees by hitting them to death. In addition, beekeepers using insecticides and pesticides also have serious effects on the health of bees and the quality of honey products. These chemicals cause digestive, nervous, and immune system problems, leading to increased bee mortality rates and reduced pollination efficiency. Hazardous chemicals can accumulate in the soil and water, leading to long-term environmental problems. Toxic active ingredients can leach into honey, making the product poor quality and causing illness for users. The use of sustainable farming practices and raising public awareness about these issues are crucial to address these problems.
The social enterprise is an innovative business model whose main purpose is to address social issues by combining social impact with financial sustainability. Karuna Vietnam is a social enterprise with a mission to reduce climate change, protect bees, and improve the quality of education in highland areas in a healthy and happy environment, just like the bees in the Karuna bee garden. Karuna is a pioneer in protecting forests and promoting “clean” honey in Vietnam.
Karuna Vietnam solves the problem by going from the root, which is the unsustainable income of the people of the Ban Vin area. With the clean honey farming and harvesting model, Karuna not only helps provide a sustainable source of income for people, helping them not to depend on deforestation but also makes them aware of the need to protect the forest, from which native bee species are protected, climate change is also significantly reduced. Karuna conducted a survey at Ban Vin, Bat Mot Commune, Thuong Xuan District, Thanh Hoa Province – where the primary forest is preserved and developed by the country. This is a natural environment that is extremely suitable for building a habitat for domestic bees and bees. In order to popularize the process and spread the idea of beekeeping, Karuna Vietnam has organized meetings and exchanges with representatives of communes and forest rangers and Thai ethnic people living in the village, with special emphasis on the relationship between forests, bee colonies, beekeepers, and honey bee quality. Besides, Karuna also conducted a tutorial on making scented candles from beeswax and essential oils to create more jobs and improve income and labor productivity for the villagers. Karuna Vietnam believes that, by selling high-quality honey products, businesses can help local people build their economy, inspire people to care about the environment, and promote sustainable agricultural development.
For Karuna, the most difficult thing is to bring the model to remote areas in Thanh Hoa. Therefore, Karuna has made many trips to find suitable locations to create high-quality drops of wild honey for consumers. At the same time, persuade the community to participate in the sustainable honey production value chain and the Karuna happy wild bee ecosystem. In addition, Karuna also trained the method of making candles and products related to beeswax and honey to the people and considered it as a way to create their livelihood through the model of beekeeping and collected products obtained from bees. Karuna does not only care about bees and the quality of the climate in beekeeping areas. They believe that the knowledge of the locals contributes significantly to the sustainability of the beekeeping model and the overall development of the community. Therefore, Karuna has also prioritized education, providing scholarships and building schools for children in remote areas to help them access better education. Not only caring about bees and the quality of the climate in the beekeeping area, Karuna believes that the knowledge of her children in these localities also contributes a significant part to the sustainability of the bee farm model as well as the quality of the future lives of local people.
Karuna hopes that through the measures we have taken, are currently taking, and will continue to implement, we can bring our model closer to the world and contribute to creating a better world.
- Lessons learned
From Karuna Vietnam’s case study, many valuable lessons can be drawn for other social enterprises. Starting a social enterprise requires a unique set of skills and considerations to balance both social impact and financial sustainability. By following the lessons learned outlined above, the enterprise can create a successful business that generates profits while positively impacting society. The enterprise can serve as a model for other businesses looking to combine social impact with financial success.
- Focus on a clear social mission: The social mission of the enterprise should be clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders. The mission should be the driving force behind the business and guide decision-making to ensure that the enterprise stays true to its purpose.
- Identify a sustainable business model: The enterprise should have a sustainable business model that generates revenue to support the social mission. The model should consider factors such as pricing, distribution, and marketing to ensure that the enterprise can cover its costs and generate profit.
- Build a strong network: The enterprise should build a strong network of partners, supporters, and advisors. This network can provide valuable resources, expertise, and connections to help the enterprise achieve its goals.
- Measure impact: The enterprise should regularly measure its impact on society and the environment to ensure that it is fulfilling its social mission. Measuring impact can help the enterprise identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the effectiveness of its social mission to stakeholders.
- Maintain transparency and accountability: The enterprise should be transparent about its operations and finances to build trust with stakeholders. It should also maintain accountability by regularly reporting on its progress towards achieving its social mission.
- Embrace innovation: The enterprise should continuously explore new ways to innovate and improve its business model and social mission. Innovation can help the enterprise stay relevant, increase its impact, and reach new customers.
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