Thanks to a new pilot project under the USAID-funded Community Forests Program (CFP), life is becoming a little bit sweeter for some households in the project zone for the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP), taking place in Bunda-Bunda Chiefdom of Rufunsa District.
The sustainable Honey production pilot project was started in mid-2014, and to date, a total of 93 individuals from the project zone for the LZRP have been trained to maintain and manage their own hives. As part of the project, over 200 hives have been distributed with 120 swarm boxes. Under the CFP, BCP plans to increase the number of participants and to have at least 1,000 hives by the end of 2016. The Honey production project is taking place in partnership with an established honey production organization in Zambia. The aim of the project is two-fold: First, to sustainably manage and protect the local forest resources, and second, to assist local communities and families develop viable enterprises that can bring revenue to rural households, generated through sustainable business practices. Under the CFP, BCP is promoting the idea that improving community livelihoods is a very important prerequisite for sustainable forest management.
Smart Nketani and his wife Bertina attended the most recent honey production and beekeeping training conducted by Kapenda Mabula Natural Products (the maker of Luano Honey brand), facilitated by BCP under the CFP, which took place from 29th September-01st October 2015. Following the training, the Nketani’s, have created an impressive apiary in the Miombo woodland surrounding their farm. Mr Nketani explains how he greatly appreciated this opportunity: ”My wife and I are so happy especially with the seven hives we were given which now make up an impressive apiary just near our farm house. We used to cut trees to make bark traditional hives, but these hives would rot eventually and the type of honey that we would harvest was not of good quality. With the knowledge we were equipped with, we’re positive to produce over 10 liters of good quality honey per harvest from each hive without contributing to deforestation by cutting trees down.” Mrs. Nketani added that the training was very well done: ”They taught us a lot of things with demonstrations, like how to bait and how to move the queen from the swarm box to the hive. We are now experts!”
The support being given to the local community is being appreciated and more local farmers are now approaching BCP staff, requesting to be trained and equipped with hives. The beekeeping initiative offers one of the best opportunities for the rural communities because of its minimal requirements for land, machinery and equipment, labor and capital investment. Beehives typically start producing good harvests within two (2) years once hives become occupied with bees.
Under the CFP, Honey production trainings are usually done in partnership with the Forestry Department station in Chinyunyu, Rufunsa District, and other partners from the private sector such as Kapenda Mabula Natural Products. The trainings accommodate a limited number (20-30) people per session, and they are designed to be personalized, intensive, and hands-on.
During the last round of trainings under the Honey Production pilot, the Rufunsa Team was interested to note that farmers from nearby areas outside of the project zone also participated in the training program, although they are not eligible to receive hives at this time. This clearly shows that the farmers in the area are interested in beekeeping, and the project is set to expand well in upcoming years, and grow to include new areas. In upcoming years, the Honey Production initiative in Rufunsa is planned to include hundreds of participants and thousands of beehives!
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