MALAWI SUCCESS STORIES
SBDARA – Four years on
The Small Beekeepers’ Development and Research Association (SBDARA) Project represents the combined efforts of over 100 beekeeping groups to improve their incomes. At the start of the Project, the distance from the urban markets and lack of transport made it hard for the beekeepers to sell their honey for a good price. People were trading from a position of weakness in a buyers’ market. Unscrupulous traders cheated the beekeepers by taking the honey never to return, so beekeepers lost both their crops and storage containers.
We set out to create a co-operative marketing organisation that provided a convenient and honest outlet for beekeepers to sell their honey. At the start of the Project Bees Abroad (a UK beekeeping charity) provided capital to allow honey to be purchased from the villagers for immediate cash, to pay for honey storage and retail containers, as well as transport to collect and sell honey plus wages and overheads.
They also sponsored the development of a resource and packing centre where the Project keeps demonstration hives. The centre has a garden with fruit trees and a tree nursery, which SBDARA have now started to develop into a commercial enterprise.
SBDARA are building up a system of village-based field extension services with locally based trainers. There are seven excellent trainers and by the end of 2007 they will all have taken the British Beekeepers’ Association Assessment in Basic African Beekeeping - this is a high quality, practical demonstration of a person’s beekeeping capability and is designed for beekeeping trainers working in African conditions. Trainers have bicycles so they can hold sessions in the villages. SBDARA buys honey from the beekeepers and packs it into bottles with good labels. They search out new customers and deliver the honey using the local minibus for transport. In 2006, over 7 tonnes of honey was sold.
Beekeeper involvement is central to the Project and is encouraged by establishing beekeeping clubs. There are 10 -12 people per club, 10 clubs to a zone and 10 zones to a district. People pay a small subscription to belong to a club and are given a beekeeper’s record card to show they are producers. Each club elects a representative to the zonal committee, while each zonal committee elects a representative to the co-operative’s board of directors.
We hope that three years funding from the British High Commission will lead to the long-term sustainability of the Project. The design will enable it to become self-financing eventually, so that training and field extension services can be funded from efficiently run marketing activities.
Pam Gregory, UK
Muloza Beekeeping Project
The Group is located on the eastern slope of Mulanje Mountain in the area of Njema. It was established in year 2000 to conduct activities to catalyse community-based natural resource management, in collaboration with the Mulanje District Assembly. Geoffrey Kumbuyo says the Group initiated beekeeping after raising its own funds to buy 18 hives, and due to a high demand for beekeeping activities, approached the District Assembly for further support. He said, “Fortunately, the Assembly had received MK171, 819 (US$1,233; €900) from the Environmental Affairs Department to support and implement beekeeping in the area. This could strengthen the spirit of forest resource ownership among local communities”. Project activities include training, procurement of equipment and protective clothing, as well as monitoring. Officials from the Department of Forestry are providing technical support. With the funds, 94 beekeeping farmers have been trained. According to Kumbuyo, the success story is that participation during the training was very good. At the end of the sessions participants were able to demonstrate skills and knowledge they had acquired including honey and beeswax harvesting and processing. After training, there has been a steady increase of demand from other communities to establish their own beekeeping groups: Njedza Vision Women’s Group, Duswa and Njirambo beekeepers, all from Mabuka, are some of the newly established groups. Due to their enthusiasm, the three groups will be provided with 50 hives each. Kumbuyo said that the main goal of assisting beekeepers is to promote environmental management through sustainable utilisation of non-timber natural resources.
Weldone Ngalonde, Sapitwa Newsletter, sent by Hastings Maloya, Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust
Published in Bees for Development Journal #83