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The Beekeeping Project for Improved Livelihoods in Nyaminyami District

One of Zimbabwe's poorest and least developed districts is Nyaminyami. The region falls under the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) which is endowed with wildlife and the landscape spans the borders of Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. The landscape must be conserved at all costs in order to prevent fragmentation and wildlife population decline. The two main livelihood sources, crop cultivation and livestock rearing do not yield substantial profits for the local communities as a result of harsh climatic conditions that are characterised by extremely high temperatures and low rainfall. Crop raidings by herbivores, particularly elephants and livestock depredation by carnivores such as lions, leopards and hyenas from adjacent wildlife conservation further exacerbate the situation. Farmers are often left counting their losses without any form of compensation. Farmers resort to taking matters into their hands by destroying wildlife in retaliation. Ultimately, if the issue is left unresolved, farmers and wildlife will continue to suffer tremendously.

Wildlife Conservation Action (WCA) has established that beekeeping is one of the most significant strategies to address the issue. Because elephants avoid crop fields and area with colonised beehives, beekeeping offers a solution to the problems related to crop raiding. Beekeeping is a worthwhile and lucrative endeavor due to a number of reasons. The beekeeping venture does not require a lot of money, labour or time. Given that raw honey is in high demand and a ready market is necessary for the project's survival, beekeeping has the potential to bring in extra income. To offset crop losses caused by herbivore raids and droughts, beekeeping offers a profitable substitute source of income. Beekeeping does not experience fluctuations in revenue, even during years of drought. Substantial income from beekeeping is guaranteed on even the smallest pieces of land and this business venture will prevent habitat loss and help dissuade the farmers from encroaching into wildlife areas. This project provides an incentive for farmers to stop deforestation and promotes connectivity in the KAZA TFCA.

WCA has partnered with Nzatu with funding support from Great Plains Foundation, a consultancy to implement a three-year beekeeping project and is now in the first phase of the beekeeping project in Nyaminyami District. In November 2023, Four local carpenters from Mola Village were trained on the construction of the double decker beehive by Nzatu Consultancy. Two AGRITEX officers participated in the training. The community guardians also witnessed the training. The local carpenters got the opportunity to do practicals and assemble the double decker beehive. The Nzatu Consultants helped the participants draw up a list of the tools and equipment that will be required to construct double decker beehives. The tools and equipment will be provided before February to enable the local carpenters to construct the beehives at a reasonable fee in time. The beehives will be distributed and installed in homesteads in six wards between 2024 to 2025. Beneficiaries of the project will be selected from areas where human wildlife conflicts are prevalent in order to address the challenge. Beehives will be installed as an eco-fence between communal land and wildlife areas in 2026 and these beehives will be community owned and they will help keep elephants away from communal land and improve livelihoods. The double decker beehive has the capacity to improve productivity by producing a higher volume of honey (30 kg) compared to the Kenyan top bar beehive which produces about 20 kg per harvest. Nzatu Consultancy will buy raw honey from the farmers.


Figure 1: Welcome remarks session

Figure 2: Behive construction demonstration by Nzatu

Figure 3. Local carpenter doing practical for beehive construction

Figure 4. Sample of a double-decker beehive

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