Kahoza Wesisiras is nine years old and he lives about one mile up a path that winds through his neighbours’ matoke (banana), g-nut (peanut) and coffee fields, off a red sand road in the district of Kamwenge in Western Uganda. The area is verdant and hilly - it was formed by volcanoes - and from their plot you can see for miles. When we visited in December 2010, most of the family were away at a neighbour’s premature funeral but the younger children had stayed back with their father Kamanzi to show us their apiary, set in a stand of eucalyptus trees and flowering bushes. Kamanzi’s is a demonstration apiary, used for peer-to-peer training with other members of his honey cooperative, KABECOS.
When he’s not following Arsenal or listening to Pastor Wilson Bugembe’s music, Kahoza sometimes helps with the bees by making banana juice to feed them, or keeping the apiary clean. His favourite part is harvesting the honey at night when he always eats some of it too. In fact, Kahoza wants to start keeping bees of his own. He said he wanted to start getting his own income as a child by having his own bees. He has learned from his father that selling honey makes money: in Kamanzi’s family, honey trade is generating enough income to improve the family’s standard of living. Kahoza’s sister attends a good school in Kampala and his own school fees are also paid with money from honey sales. Kamanzi adds that he has used honey income to buy more land, pay medical bills, and for general maintenance of the family.
Honey trade brings in sustainable income that allows these households in Uganda to flourish, rather than depending on charity which is short term and can create dependency. Bees for Development is supporting the honey cooperative KABECOS to develop its trading capacity by improving its communications and business management, and linking it to higher value markets. Some KABECOS members already earn almost double the average national income (171,000 shillings per household at last measure in 2005), making 136,000 shillings (about £40) per household from honey trade. We want the volume of this trade to grow and since it requires only locally available materials, there is no reason why it should not. In time, it may even allow Kahoza and his brother to fulfil their dreams of becoming a head teacher and a ‘doctor for animals’.