Malawi: Bee-keeping reaps a double benefit for the people of Chibalo

Oxfam's Program in Malawi, through our partner, Circle for Integrated Community Development (CICOD) is supporting people of Chibalo Village in Traditional Authority Thomas in Thyolo District with bee keeping as an income generating activity.

Village Headman Chibalo said people in the area have no access to gainful employment because there are no estates within the area, which makes it difficult for households to earn extra income.

People in most parts of Thyolo work on tea estates as casual laborers to earn a livelihood.

 “The money realized from the sale of the honey harvested from this project will be shared amongst households participating in the project. This will raise their living standards as they will be able to purchase fertilizer and boost their crop harvests next season.”

CICOD trained the community in bee keeping and forestry management in March 2008. The organization then gave the community ten beehives, protective garments such as overalls, gloves and gumboots, 1000 bottles for packaging honey, sieves, brushes and wire used for suspending the beehives.

Sailesi Vaheke, who chairs the Namikhate Bee Keeping Group, says that the bee-keeping business is bringing double benefits to the community.

“As well as earning money from selling our honey, we have also started taking more care of our forests because this is where the bees live and build their natural hives.” he says.

“We have not used our forests wisely until now,” says Sailesi. “Now, instead of cutting down trees, we are keeping them. If we had started our honey activities a few years ago, we would have known to make wiser use of this natural resource.”

Changing lives

“Our lives are changing for the better from the money that the sale of honey brings. We share some of the income among group members, and also assist widows and old people in our village. We are investing the rest in buying more beehives to enhance honey production and by other materials to enable our business to grow.”

Vaheke, 45 said the group has already opened a bank account where the group’s sales will be deposited. He said CICOD field officers have told them that they will assist the group to find better markets for their honey around Thyolo District headquarters.

One beehive has the potential of producing fifty 250-milliliter bottles of honey. The group, according to Vaheke, anticipates selling each bottle at K200 (equivalent of $1.42). With ten beehives already in place the group anticipates making up to K100, 000 (approximately $715) after the first harvest, which is due early September (2008).

The Namikhate Bee Keeping Group is comprised of forty people, twenty-two of whom are women.