The beekeeper who had his life changed with SENAR training


Brazilian beekeeper Otávio de Jesus Alves, 39, has a big smile on his face. At first glance, it is hard to believe that he and his wife, Nice, went through so many hardships to feed their three children. A resident of the small town of Ruy Barbosa, in Bahia state, northeastern Brazil, he lived off small jobs and garbage collection when he found the National Rural Learning Service (SENAR), a training program aimed at small farmers throughout the country.

To change his life, Otávio embarked on a new challenge. With no technical skills or knowledge, he started working with beekeeping. The inspiration, as always, came from his children. “My son found a small used table and took it home. I started beekeeping on it. I cut it, assembled it, captured a hive, and started production there,” he says.

Until he received help from SENAR, it was hard to continue producing. “In the beginning, we didn’t get more than 14 boxes. When we reached 15, a swarm would leave, or the bees would die. I was stung a lot in the beginning.” After the technical assistance, it became easier: “I had an average of 35 boxes, and then I didn’t stop anymore – the production was just increasing.”

Technical and Managerial Assistance

Otávio’s entrepreneurial vision made him look for personalized technical assistance in 2021. The person responsible for this job was Luarícia Nascimento, who engaged in the beekeeper’s struggle to expand production. “I am very proud to be here. Otávio welcomed me as a family member, and now we are harvesting the results,” says Luarícia.

The production more than doubled in a year, going from 400 kilos of honey to a little more than 1 ton in the period of two years of technical assistance. The result is that now the producer has 120 boxes and four apiaries. The next steps involve selling the already bottled honey in supermarkets and expanding the production to other bee derivatives, such as propolis and pollen.

Life change

With the honey sales, the family bought their own plot of land. The farm was named “Nosso Sonho” (Our Dream). They built a temporary rammed earth house there, which soon gave way to a larger brick house.

“I dreamed about this plot of land for ten years, and the day came when we could buy it. It’s not just my dream, it’s my whole family’s dream: mother, father, children, to be on this plot of land here.”

“Before that, we couldn’t buy much; something was always missing. Then, my father got into beekeeping, and our lives improved,” says Clarice, Otávio’s 13-year-old daughter. “Now we have an incredible and larger house, and we don’t lack anything. Our lives have improved a lot.”

Graziela, Otávio’s 18-year-old daughter, adds: “I didn’t have my own room. Now we have a TV, cell phones, and internet and are in good health.

Otávio’s story is the first in a series that the SENAR campaign Agro, from Small to Big, from the Field to You will tell. To learn more about the life of this honey producer, watch:


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