Honey project transforms livelihoods in Buhera

APICULTURE has changed lives of 98 families in the drought prone and poverty stricken area of Buhera where they are producing  at least 500 litres of honey every month.

Beekeepers in Ward 28 teamed up to establish an apiary and honey processing centre, Chapanduka Honey Processing Centre, in 2014 and life has never been the same for the villagers.

Chapanduka Honey Processing Centre has 24 females and 74 males and has already started processing honey using honey pressers, combo extractors and solar extractors.

With the support they are getting from SAFIRE, they now have a ready market at Harare-based Savannah Delight, Heaven Delight, Special Food of Africa and Organic Seven companies where they are selling their honey for $4 per litre.

Mr Riyazari Matenga (61) who has 150 traditional beehives in the area, said they were expecting to harvest more honey following the introduction of Kenyan beehives in the area.

“I have been a bee-keeper for the past 18 years. I now have 150 traditional beehives. I have managed to send my children to school over the years. I am able to meet my daily needs through apiculture. My monthly produce will surely double because of the introduction of Kenyan beehives,” he said.

He added: “We are also adding value to our produce. Apart from selling honey, we are also selling wax which is about $7 per kg. The wax can be used to make candles and floor polish among other products.”

The success of the Buhera project comes through support from SAFIRE under its Scaling up Climate Change Adaption programme. Assessments were carried out by SAFIRE and other local stakeholders who came up with a Climate Change Adaption Plan.

OXFAM channelled $70 000 towards the building of the honey processing centre and fencing of a 1,5hactare apiary. Work commenced in March 2016 and was completed in April.

OXFAM programmes manager, Dr Leonard Unganai, encouraged farmers to diversify their sources of livelihoods.

“Farmers should not only focus on crop farming which failed over the past years because of drought. We are seeing a lot of potential in this project. Last year, farmers managed to generate about $7 000 from selling their honey. Now that the processing centre is functional, we expect them to generate more income and change their livelihoods. We are also encouraging more farmers to chip in and generate income,” said Dr Unganai.

Statistics reveal that Zimbabwe has the potential to produce 500 000 litres of honey a year. The current honey production levels are estimated at 70 000 litres per year from nearly 16 000 bee farmers across the country.