Moroccan Agricultural Engineer Uses $15,000 Ford Grant to Show Route to Sweet Success is to ‘Bee Organic’

Thursday 06 July 2017

Jeddah- MENA Herald :Sometimes feared, often misrepresented, bees play an exceptional role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystem, with the industrious striped flyers responsible for pollinating a third of everything we eat, from most fruits and vegetables, to cocoa beans and coffee. But honeybees are disappearing globally at an alarming rate thanks to climate change, pesticides, intensive monoculture, disease and loss of habitat. One man in Morocco, however, having secured a Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grant – which has extended its closing date for new applications to July 31 – is tackling the issue in his homeland.

Agricultural engineer Ait Hamou Abderrahmane sought to save the traditional beehives of Morocco, by developing and managing them in accordance with organic production methods, thanks to the $15,000 grant. Having been drawn to the alarming environmental phenomenon of declining bee numbers, Abderrahmane’s cause will help convert the country’s apiaries from traditional, seemingly random, production to an innovative organic model, which can potentially increase bee numbers in the region.

Abderrahmane’s innovative, intelligently-designed apiaries have been created with the well-being of bees in mind. Keeping the black and gold creatures happy and strong is of great importance, and to do this, Abderrahmane required ideal housing conditions respecting the natural instinct of bees; to reduce disturbance during apiary inspections; ability to allow bees access to numerous and varied honey plants, as well as fresh clean water; and a solid management of the apiaries.

Once thought too cold in winter and too hot in summer, terracotta beehives – where cactus mucilage is used to increase the rigidity – are frequently identified on archaeological sites, though created via an art form not as widely practiced as it once was. The locally-sourced sustainable material do, in fact, offer great thermal insulation against the climate, while being easy to transport in the case of transhumance. Inevitably, the solid nature of ceramic makes it difficult to inspect the inner workings of a hive, meaning, innovation needed to continue; which it did for Abderrahmane and his team with an endoscopic camera that operated with the least amount of disturbance to the bees in the hive.

Abderrahmane’s innovative apiaries are focused on one region in Morocco, where it is hoped this non-intrusive bee-keeping project will save the yellow honeybee species (Apis Sahariensis), which is currently threatened with extinction.

“With the money received from Ford Motor Company’s Conservation and Environmental Grants programme, we were able to expedite the production of many more of our organic hives,” said Abderrahmane. “Converting the country’s traditional, seemingly random-production apiaries into an innovative organic working model greatly increases the chances of survival for the local honeybees.”

Programme History
Ford Motor Company is dedicated to preserving the environment for future generations and providing ingenious environmental solutions that contribute to a sustainable planet. Initiatives such as Ford’s Conservation and Environmental Grants programme evidence a commitment to encourage, support and reward the actions of individuals, groups and non-profit organisations in achieving the same goal.

In its 17 years of existence, Ford Grants has become one of the largest corporate initiatives of its kind in the region, created to empower individuals and non-profit groups that are donating their time and efforts to preserve the environmental well-being of their communities.

Since its inception, the Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants programme has received support from various governmental and non-governmental environmental authorities from around the Middle East, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Emirates Wildlife Society, and the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED).

Recipients are chosen by an independent panel of judges consisting of academics and leaders from regional environmental organisations. The judges are seasoned environmentalists or academicians from the region carefully selected based on geographical coverage, age and gender equality. They look for initiatives that demonstrate a well-defined sense of purpose, a commitment to maximising available resources, and a reputation for meeting objectives and delivering planned programmes and services.

Apply Now
Individuals or organisations from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, or Yemen, with on-going non-profit projects focused on any of the three main areas – Environmental Education, Protection of the Natural Environment and Conservation Engineering – can still apply now by downloading the form here, and email it to Closing date for applications is July 31, 2017 at 9pm AST (Arab Standard Time). Jury voting will take place, virtually, in August, with winners announced in September of this year.

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