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Tigray White Honey - Slow Food Presidia

Tigray White Honey


Tigray is the most northern region of Ethiopia, bordering with Eritrea to the north and with the Dancalia lowlands to the east. Its heart lies on a plateau at an altitude of about 2000 meters, in a landscape punctuated by impressive red mountains and spectacular canyons where, according to a local saying, "the mountains gather for a meeting". The zone is known for its numerous rock churches: they are monolithic structures dating back to 1200, clinging to the steep slopes and dug into the sandstone.
Here the seasons are well distinct: the two rainy periods are immediately followed by dry seasons with little vegetation. In spring (September to December), after the rainy season, the landscape changes and becomes greener. It is in this period that the bees can get to work on the different flowers available. Despite the dryness of the area, the yearly honey yield is considerably high. This is due to the widespread beekeeping. Honey is harvested twice a year: the first harvest takes place from September to December and has a higher yield; the second takes place from May to June (although only in particularly rainy years). The three types of honey produced are distinguishable by their color: red, yellow and white. 90% of production consists of a bright white colored honey, with good consistency and large grains without homogeneity. Its flavor is not very sweet and it has an intense aftertaste. Its color is due to the blossom of the area: a study needs to be carried out to determine the species, but presumably they mainly belong to the labiates family (like sage), and to a lesser extent to prickly pear and Euphorbia. Known and appreciated throughout Ethiopia, white honey is traditionally served during festivals with steam-cooked white bread made from wheat. Before the Presidium was created the producers used to sell the product to intermediaries. It was then often mixed with cheaper honeys and resold as a product that no longer resembled the original one.

The Presidium is based on a group of 16 beekeepers who formed the Selam association in the town of Wukro. Using over 420 rational hives, it produces about 30 quintals of honey per year. The Presidium is progressively making itself independent of the chain of intermediaries by selling through a small retail shop on land provided by the local authority. The Tigray White Honey Presidium has two distinctive features: Firstly the product itself, which is of high quality and does not require significant improvements. Secondly, the technical and personal skills of the main coordinator, who is now collaborating in the training of several new communities. The Presidium has also provided glass jars - donated by Saint-Gobain Vetri (now Verallia) - and labels, improving the final presentation of the product. The construction of a new multi-purpose workshop is currently being completed in Wukro, allowing the producers to extract and sell their honey, and make it available for tastings. Moreover, technical experts from CONAPI (Italian Consortium of Organic Beekeepers and Farmers) are helping to draw up product regulations to guarantee the authenticity and quality of the product.

Production area
Wukro, Tigray Region

Technical Partners

Presidium supported by
Emilia Romagna Region

16 beekeepers
Presidium Coordinator
Zerihun Dessalgn Hailemariam
Tel. +251 911214454


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