Beekeeping keeps community

A beekeeping initiative started by a leading environmental organisation, Environment Africa, has enabled rural communities to improve their income potential.

Beekeeper training facilitated by Environment Africa.
Beekeeper training facilitated by Environment Africa.

The organisation has been helping communities affected by climate change, drought and reduced agricultural production.

Paradzayi Hodzonge, EARegional Director, told The Zimbabwean that his organisation started the programme in 2011, adding that 3,000 farmers were already benefiting from the initiative nationwide.

Each farmer has been given three hives and other tools to start the beekeeping activities, Hodzonge said. Besides improving rural household income, the project is also designed to conserve the environment.

“These farmers should be able to conserve at least 1,200hectares of communal forest and have already planted over 21,000 multi-purpose trees as part of a bee forage improvement strategy to ensure that their bees get the critical forage required to produce honey,” Hodzonge said.


Barney Mawire, EA Zimbabwe Country Manager, described rural Wedza as a leading beekeeping model in the country.

A honey-processing centre has been set up for the community at Wedza business centre in Mashonaland East province and there are plans to replicate the same initiative at Guruve business centre in Mashonaland Central and Zvimba in Mashonaland Central.

The busy Wedza business centre is reported to be providing a ready market for raw honey for more than 500 beekeepers.

“Before the development of the centre, farmers were faced with the challenge of selling their honey and they were getting very low returns for their efforts, as little as $1 per kg. They are now selling honey for $3 per kg through the processing centre,” Mawire said.


Mawire said the beekeeping projects have helped communities to diversify their livelihood options. He added that the beekeepers were also now able to process byproducts from bees wax.

In Chimanimani, Hwange and Lupane districts, beekeeping projects supported by EA started in September 2011 and will run until August 2012, after which the farmers will continue on their own. Beneficiaries of the beekeeping projects have received 9 000 top bar hives and beekeeping kits and equipment.

“A number of capacity building courses were also conducted to equip the participating households with skills in beekeeping, conservation farming and water point management,” Mawire said.

In rural Mutare, EA is helping train beneficiaries in advanced beekeeping, while a long dormant honey-processing centre is being renovated for the surrounding communities in Vumba. There are also plans to extend beekeeping activities to various other parts of the country.

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