You are here
Sustainable beekeeping in Uganda provides employment
PUM expert Piet de Meester recently visited Uganda for the tenth time. This time for a follow up mission to Honey Pride Arua Ltd., a beekeeping company in the far northwest of the country. The region is known as one of the poorest and least developed in Uganda.
The Arua area knows a lot of poverty. People live on less than 1 dollar a day. Education, healthcare, public transport, and clean drinking water are all basic facilities that are self-evident to us, but certainly not there. To stimulate sustainable employment, economic growth, and better living conditions in this area, many entrepreneurs are active in apiculture.
‘The market could process ten times more’
Beekeeping in northern Uganda is mainly traditional. The bees are kept in braided baskets or in hollow tree trunks. At the time of harvest, the bee nations are treated with a lot of smoke, which often leads to the death or the departure of the bee population. The harvested honey is often contaminated by ash residues and has a clear taste of smoke. The Ugandan Beekeepers Association estimates that 500-800 tonnes of honey are produced annually throughout Uganda, but the market could process ten times more.
A limited number of beekeepers in Northern Uganda work with the Kenian Top Bar Hive (KTB). This cabinet with separate windows offers the possibility to turn traditional beekeeping into a sustainable form. Piet: “It was my task to train the hundreds of Honey Pride suppliers in the transition from the traditional tree basket to the modern Kenyan Top Bar Hive. With the KTB you can harvest more kilos of honey, which is also of better quality, because less work has to be done with smoke and fire.
Train the trainer
The training courses attract halls full of people, and that is why it is great that I can use equipment donated by the Hans Blankert Fund (PUM’s fund for small investments). This donation contains an aggregate, a beamer, a laptop, an extension cord and a stabilizer. The courses can now be taken care of in the most remote places, also by the well-educated trainers of Honey Pride. The participants receive a certificate that gives access to the 1-day follow-up course ‘Working with the Kenyan Top Bar Hive’. In addition, after the training they can participate in a programme to lease the so-called KTBs. This lease programme also includes 300 beekeeping overalls, smokers, gloves, boots, cabinet chisels and airtight buckets and manuals in their own language.
In Arua the programme contains about 300 farmers who can lease 1,900 KTBs. The funding comes from the Micro-finance Support Centre, a government institute. In addition to the Hans Blankert Fund, my ‘own’ foundation also contributes. See www.bijenteeltnoorduganda.nl.
The 300 farmers who now receive training and afterwards can lease a KTB create sustainable employment and better living conditions for themselves and their environment.”
Piet de Meester (71) started Imkerij Poppendamme with his wife in 1989, a professional company with an associated visitor centre. After the transfer of the company to his son, the bees still occupy an important place in his life as board member of the Walcheren Bijenvereniging, practical supervisor of the beginner course Beekeeping, and as a PUM beekeeping expert.