2008 Finalist Projects


Keystone Foundation - India

The Keystone Foundation is keeping an ancient and sustainable tradition alive by creating markets for wild honey.

For generations the Adivasi people of Southern India have specialised in collecting honey from wild bee colonies on cliffs. The hunters are lowered by ropes towards the colonies, where they waft smoke to calm the bees before breaking off a chunk of comb. Even in times of hunger, the hunters are always careful to leave enough of the nest for the bee colonies to recover. "They have been able to come up with systems that respect the bees and the environment," explains Keystone's Matthew John. "There are certain areas where they do not touch the combs at all, because they feel they are holy cliffs. But for us they are gene pools that they are preserving."

With commercial plantations exploiting Adivasi communities and taking over their lands, their ancient way of life was under threat. But now the Keystone Foundation is securing a future for the honey hunters by turning their wild honey into a source of income.

The Foundation helps with processing and packaging, adding value to the honey. It has also taught the hunters how to make valuable products such as candles and balms from the beeswax - previously the wax was thrown away. Other goods have been added to the Keystone range, including gooseberry candy, pickles, jams, silk cotton mattresses and pillows. All the products are sold in Keystone's shops, with profits helping around 50 Adivasi villages.

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