Resilient food systems through beekeeping

26 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Resilient food systems through beekeeping

The Sunday Mail

Word From The Market with Cliff Chiduku and Terence Chambati

AS a result of the El Niño-induced drought in the 2023/2024 cropping season, Zimbabwe is grappling with food security challenges.

The Government has put in place measures to make sure no one starves.

President Mnangagwa recently declared a State of Disaster following the dry spell.

Amid the myriad solutions proposed to address food security challenges, one often overlooked yet remarkably potent solution stands out — beekeeping.

As the country navigates these challenges, honey can be a multi-faceted resource with the potential to nourish, sustain and empower communities.

Honey holds great significance as a crucial element in ensuring food security. In commemorating World Bee Day (May 20), the Zimbabwe Apiculture Platform (ZAP) — in conjunction with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, as well as other stakeholders — hosted various activities to raise awareness on the importance of bees and beekeeping, particularly among young people, for a more sustainable and food-secure future. World Bee Day is commemorated on May 20 every year. The theme for this year was “Bee Engaged with Youth”.  World Bee Day is not just a day to appreciate these buzzing beauties; it is also a call to action. Bees are critical pollinators that ensure healthy and functional ecosystems. They play a vital role in achieving several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including:

Zero hunger (SDG 2) — Nearly 75 percent of our food crops rely on pollination, primarily by bees.

Good health and well-being (SDG 3) — Bees support biodiversity, which maintains ecosystems essential for medicinal plants, clean air and clean water.

Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) — Healthy watersheds, where bees thrive, contribute to clean freshwater resources.

Life on land (SDG 15) — Bees help maintain balanced ecosystems, contributing to soil fertility, combating desertification and aiding habitat restoration.

Local production statistics

Beekeeping or apiculture has grown over the years due to various programmes initiated by the Government and its partners. According to the 2023 First-Round Crop, Livestock and Fisheries Assessment report, the number of beekeepers in the country rose from 28 334 to 28 735 last year. “Honey production in Zimbabwe has shown substantial growth, increasing by 10 percent from 949 284 tonnes to 104 452 tonnes,” reads part of the report.

Masvingo and Manicaland provinces are the two main honey-producing areas in Zimbabwe.

Striking gold

Beekeeping can help deal with unemployment and poverty, especially in rural areas. By investing in apiculture, communities can develop small-scale enterprises, create jobs and stimulate local economies. Several farmers who have switched to apiculture have struck gold through selling honey and hives. Additionally, they are offering pollination services to other farmers. “A litre of honey sells for about US$7, and I harvest close to 200 litres of honey twice a month from my beehives. This is a lot of money I realise every month,” said Owen Fadzi from Marondera.

Nutritional value

Honey is not just a sweetener; it contains essential nutrients — vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It can also serve as a vital supplement, especially for vulnerable populations or those with chronic illnesses.

Sustainable agriculture

Apiculture is an environmentally sustainable agricultural practice that complements traditional farming. Unlike large-scale agriculture, which often requires significant land, water and chemical inputs, beekeeping is low impact and can be practised on a small piece of land, even in backyards in urban settings. This makes it an ideal livelihood option for smallholder farmers, who can integrate beekeeping with their traditional agricultural activities.

 

 

Economic empowerment

Beekeeping offers a viable source of income for rural communities, helping to diversify their economic activities.

The production and sale of honey and other bee products, such as beeswax, propolis and royal jelly, provide additional revenue streams.

This diversification reduces reliance on single sources of income, making farmers more resilient to economic shocks and climate change.

Coordinated production

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) is encouraging farmers to enter into clusters and associations to enable coordinated production.

ZAP encourages beekeepers to join cooperatives and associations for knowledge exchange, skills development and collective marketing.

These platforms can be used to negotiate better prices and access markets more effectively.

In the face of climate fluctuations, Zimbabwe’s path to food security requires innovative and sustainable solutions.

Honey production, with its myriad benefits, offers a promising avenue to enhance nutrition, support sustainable agriculture and empower local economies, as well as conserve the environment.

By investing in honey production, Zimbabwe can make significant strides towards a more secure and resilient food system, as enunciated in the National Development Strategy 1.

Terence Chambati is a beekeeper and co-founder of Huchi Capital. He is also part of the secretariat at ZAP. Word From The Market is a column produced by AMA to promote market-driven production. Feedback: [email protected] or WhatsApp/Call: +263781706212.

 

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