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Bees and beekeeping for improving rural livelihoods in Ghana

Making a difference worldwide

Honey bees for cashew pollination

Honey bees for cashew pollination and rural livelihoods

The Ghanaian cashew sub-sector is an essential source of income for about 70,000 smallholder farmers, of whom 10,000 are women. A family of 6 persons work on a farm size of 0.8-2.5 ha and earn an average income US$ 247, of which cashew contributes about 25% (ACI Ghana report 2010). In 2008, about 60,000 ha of land in Ghana was under cashew cultivation producing cashew nuts worth US$45,367,000. The growing global demand for cashew nuts has been a major factor in driving the successful uptake of this tree crop in Ghana. 

Cashew trees and pollination by bees

The demand for cashew nuts outstrips supply. Scientific study shows that low cashew yields can be the result of inadequate pollination in Ghana [read more here]. The honey bee Apis mellifera, stingless bees and many solitary bees provide this essential ecosystem service. To optimize nut yields of cashew farms, it is necessary to augment the population of naturally occurring pollinators.  A practical way to achieve this is to manage honey bee colonies in cashew orchards. Optimal flower visits by an increased number of pollinators will enable farmers to harvest more fruits and nuts which improve their incomes.

Beekeeping in cashew farms

Integration of honey bee colonies within cashew orchards also permits the harvest of valuable bee products, notably honey, beeswax and propolis. Managed honey bee colonies in cashew farms have abundant resources for the production of commercial quantities of honey, beeswax and propolis which can generate additional income to farmers.

Scientific study: Economic benefits of integrating beekeeping into cashew farms in Ghana and Benin

A study [read here] was conducted between October 2012 and June 2013 and was funded by African Cashew Initiative. Farms with managed honey bee colonies, and farms without, were assessed for cashew nut yields and for the production of bee products. Results show that in Ghana a total cashew nut yield increase of 102% was obtained on farms with bee colonies. Cashew nut yield increased from 336 kg/ha to 679.4 kg/ha with the location of honey bees in the orchard. Additional income from honey, beeswax and propolis was US$ 208.53 per ha. The total income from farms without bees was US$ 176.83 compared to US$ 566.11 on farms with bees. 

The research results were extremely promising with potential net income gains of US$ 400 per year per ha of cashew farm with bees. The concept of engaging a Master Beekeeper was developed during the cashew-beekeeping study. It was based on preliminary work with cashew farmers and an assessment of the failure of many beekeeping projects in Ghana over several years.

Master Beekeeper model

  • One Master Beekeeper with a core of 25 hives, will establish his own honey production business within the cashew-growing area
  • The Master Beekeeper will locate his 25 hives in cashew-orchards belonging to other people, the beekeeper harvests the honey and the cashew farmers benefit from the pollination services
  • In addition to the 25 hives owned by the Master Beekeeper, individual cashew farmers own their own bees, also located in their own orchards
  • The Master Beekeeper helps the cashew-growers manage these bees and teaches them about beekeeping at the same time. In return the cashew-growers share the honey harvest from their colonies.
  • In all cases The Master Beekeeper takes the lead in identifying and sourcing a market for the honey, helping to consolidate product and secure fair prices. 

Implementation

This Project is being implemented in a staged process as shown here. 

Phases

Objective

Estimated start and end date

1 (six months)

Establishment of one Master Beekeeper

July 2016 – Dec 2016

2 (six months)

Training and support for 50 farmers

August 2016 – Dec 2016

3 (one year)

Establishment of second Master Beekeeper and support for 50 further farmers

July 2017 – June 2018

TOTAL (two years)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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