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Bees to increase kiwi yields in southwestern France

Bees are a key factor in agricultural yields, and the Maïsadour cooperative is offering its members the chance to engage in new activities such as kiwi cultivation and beekeeping, to offer farmers new business opportunities and encourage crop diversification.

A new local kiwi sector to diversify crops and promote food sovereignty
In January 2024, Maïsadour announced the signing of a partnership with SIKIG, to develop a kiwi sector among the cooperative's members. Maïsadour will put farmers of the Landes region who wish to start a new crop in touch with SIKIG. "Growing kiwi fruits enables farmers to diversify their activities, and it also helps protect biodiversity by establishing beehives close to their plots, which are essential for pollinating fruit and plants."

France is Europe's 3rd largest kiwi producer, with 49,000 tons, after Greece (300,000 tons) and Italy (170,000 tons). With more than 20,000 tons harvested each year, 350 kiwi growers and 600 hectares of cultivation, the Adour basin is France's 1st largest kiwi-growing area, with several certifications such as Red Label, PGI and organic.

Better yields thanks to beehives
"Locating beehives close to plots of land is essential for pollinating fruit and plants. Bees are farmers' best allies when it comes to improving yields. Only intense pollination guarantees a good harvest, and pollen dispersal by wind is not enough. That is why kiwi growers install beehives in their orchards: 7 to 8 hives per hectare on average."

Agroecology: when farmers become beekeepers
Since 2022, the cooperative has been offering training courses to its members and clients, in partnership with Apinov, a beekeeping research and training center, to deploy hives on their farms and train them in the beekeeping profession. After two days of theoretical and practical training with Apinov, apprentice beekeepers are then monitored by Le Rucher de Claron, which provides training days and feedback over the course of a year. Le Rucher is also under contract with the group to harvest honey from beekeepers and to market it.

"Approximately 40,000 tons of honey are consumed every year in France, which is about 600g per person, while the country produces only 10,000 to 20,000 tons a year, depending on the climate. At Maïsadour, we offer our farmers comprehensive support, from training to marketing, for anyone wishing to start beekeeping. In addition to increasing the productivity of their crops, our farmers contribute to a regenerative agriculture project and become players in the French beekeeping sector, producing 100% southwestern French honey," explains Christophe Bonno, general manager of the cooperative.

In 2024, 18 farmers will be trained. The aim is to install 1,500 hives by 2030, and to involve 75 farmers in developing distribution channels for harvested honey through boutique networks (En Direct de Nos Producteurs, L'Amour du Terroir...).

For more information:
Route Saint-Sever
40280 Haut-Mauco
Phone: +33 5 58 05 84 84