The umbrella organization Casa Apis unites several honey producing cooperatives in the northeastern Brazilian states of Piaui and Ceara. This region is characterized by great economic and social issues including poverty and hunger, high infant mortality rates, low wages and a disproportionate concentration of income and land. In this semi-arid region plagued by droughts, agriculture is still the main source of family income. But the inability to sustain family livelihoods through agriculture causes many people to migrate to large cities. Locals suffer the most during the hot and dry summers. Several NGOs and local universities have identified beekeeping as an opportunity to improve life standards in this area. In 2003, the cooperatives met for the first time at a gathering organized and funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture. Beekeepers faced many difficulties at this time and competition amongst themselves for the same market dramatically decreased the value of their honey. Middle men in the regional honey trade also weakened cooperatives, purchasing honey directly from the producer and at very low prices just to guarantee them an immediate, and meager, income. Also at this time, honey production methods were not in line with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture’s requirements. There was an obvious need to unify cooperatives in order to improve conditions and after months of discussion, analysis, and the creation of a technology center, Casa Apis was founded in 2005. Since then, the organization has trained a myriad of beekeepers and inspected their apiaries. In May 2008, the institution received the Federal Seal (SFI) from the Ministry of Agriculture which guaranteed honey production accorded with government requirements. In March 2009, the organization received both Fair Trade and organic certification.
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