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We spent 7 days working with Beekeepers in Uzbekistan: Here's what we learned

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Salom! (Or "Hello" in Uzbek). 🙂🇺🇿🐝

Last spring we had the chance to partner up with ICARDA to co-develop and test our new Beekeepers Companion App with beekeepers and experts in the field of apiculture in Uzbekistan and Ethiopia, thanks to funding from the German Federal Foreign Office (Auswaertiges Amt).

To focus on overcoming gender barriers in the beekeeping field, we worked with 20 female beekeepers (and 4 male beekeepers) in Tashkent (Ташкент) and Bukhara (Бухоро). Our first step was to learn everything we could about beekeeping in Uzbekistan and the challenges facing beekeepers, particularly in regards to climate and environmental factors.

As the UX/UI Designer (Sarah) and Data Analyst (Jakob) for HiveTracks, we conducted interviews with our beekeeper participants and conducted research on the flora and fauna in the area. After a better understanding of Uzbek beekeepers, we set to work translating the app into both Uzbek and Russian, making sure that the language within the Beekeeper’s Companion is gender-inclusive and localized to meet Uzbek beekeepers’ needs (not simply translated from English).

Next came prototype testing. We focused especially on the feedback of women beekeepers to develop a solution that would make beekeeping as easy as possible for them. After a busy summer with many interesting conversations, user tests, feedback and constructive criticism we synthesized and integrated all the feedback into our app.

During November, we finally got the chance to visit our AID-CSB project partners and beekeepers in Uzbekistan! We conducted two workshops (one with our Tashkent beekeepers and another with beekeepers in Bukhara) to thank them for their cooperation, patience, and assistance. The workshops were a great opportunity to receive additional feedback on how to continue to localize and improve our app, as well as to visit with each other, eat amazing food, and sample a delicious variety of Uzbek honey!

We not only met with our beekeepers but used the chance to connect with other stakeholders such as the Uzbek Beekeepers Union (ABU), the Tashkent State Agrarian University, and representatives of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the german Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). We are very grateful for the warm welcome we received and are excited about the development that is taking place in Uzbekistan.

During our workshop in Tashkent – Farkhod translated simultaneously into Russian and Uzbek

Uzbekistan is a very intriguing country, brimming with history and famous for its Silk Route cities of Bukhara, Khiva, and Samarkand. Its terrain varies from mountains to desert, with agriculture playing an integral part of the economy, so beekeeping plays an important role in the pollination of crops. Our work there is only the beginning, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

But besides the great input and seemingly never ending amount of stimulating discussions we had a great time as a team. Despite the amount of languages that were spoken: English, German, Uzbek, Russian and Bosnian, which should have been enough to confuse even the most experienced translator: We still understood each other and had a great time as a team.

The only thing left to say is:

Rahmat & Спасибо!

Sarah (UX/UI Designer) & Jakob (Product Development)

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