An international aid charity founded by a British rabbi has won a £445,000 grant from a United Nations agency to improve honey production in the developing world.
Tag International Development —which was launched by former Richmond and Cardiff Synagogues minister Rabbi Yossi Ives in 2010 and is based in the UK — uses Israeli scientific, medical and other technological knowhow to benefit other countries.
Honey production plays a vital role in easing the severe economic problems in Burma, or Myanmar as it is also known.
Ed Naing, Tag’s director there, said: “With 70 per cent of Myanmar’s population living in rural poverty and close to half the population suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition, the bee-keeping project offers an ideal solution.”
As well as a nutritious food that is cheap to produce, honey is also used for medicinal use. Spin-off products include wax, while bees also help the pollination of other crops.
Seventy Israeli queen bees have already been imported to Burma by the charity, under the eye of Israeli beekeeping expert Shaike Stern, who is leading the project.
By the end of the two-year programme, Tag hopes to have increased the number of hives from 8,000 to 12,000 in Shan State, in the south of the country.
The grant has come from the UN-affiliated Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund.
Mr Naing, who left the country when he was a teenager but has now returned with his family following Burma’s move from political isolation, said the project was “very exciting. It has given me the chance to go back to my home country to change people’s lives.”
Tag has already been active in anti-trafficking projects in Burma. Its other beneficiaries include Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Kenya, the Solomon Islands and Rwanda.
Rabbi Ives said, “We have seen, time and time again, examples of how Israeli-based humanitarian work, when taken internationally, provides dividends for peace and coexistence, bringing communities to work together to address key issues in their society.”