Nature conservation and income generation
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CTA. 2007. Nature conservation and income generation. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57260
In North West Cameroon, improved methods of beekeeping are helping to protect forests and generate income.
Nature conservation and income generation Cue: In the North West province of Cameroon, beekeeping and honey production have, in the last 20 years, become a major source of income for the rural poor. Honey from the province is exported to Nigeria and Chad, as well as being sold in towns, cities and villages in Cameroon. Much of this success has come from the work of ANCO, the Apiculture and Natural Conservation Organisation, a local NGO which was established in the area in 1992. For fifteen years it has been training farmers in the production of beehives and other beekeeping equipment, and in beekeeping skills. It has also been working as a marketing organisation for the honey that is produced. Yet despite that success, beekeeping has still not been included in Cameroon?s poverty reduction strategy, which frustrates ANCO?s founder and director, Paul Mzeka. Martha Chindong visited Paul recently at one of ANCO?s training venues, a bee farm, and found out that beekeeping has not only brought financial benefits to the province, but has also helped to protect the environment. But Martha began by pointing out that in fact, harvesting honey from the wild had been practised in the area for hundreds of years ? so why the need to introduce new methods? IN: ?Beekeeping is a very old occupation ?? OUT: ??Thank you for coming. I?m very happy.? DUR?N: 5?02? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Paul Mzeka, founder of ANCO, an organisation working in the North West province of Cameroon, to promote beekeeping and protection of the environment. He was speaking to Martha Chindong, and the interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Mzeka Beekeeping is a very old occupation in the North West and people do not only harvest from the wild. They keep bees but they keep bees in round hives. Medino did a study in 1987 and found that 30% of bush fires in the province were caused by bee farmers. Now the reason why this happened was that farmers used naked fire. When they are taking the naked fire to the bush sometimes they accidentally cause a bush fire. When they light to harvest their honey sometimes they set the hive on fire and then start a bush fire. Now what can be done? We have found that the newly introduced type of hive called a Kenya Top-Bar was very suitable for the rural world and also there was need to educate them, to wear a bee suit and to use what is called a smoker. That small device called a smoker, which is now used even by traditional beekeepers who do not agree to our approach but they all accept the use of the smoker which makes them harvest their honey without killing any bees, without being a threat to the environment. It is all spread all over the province now and I think that if another study were to be carried out now it would be discovered that there are very few bush fires arising from honey harvesting. Chindong Is preventing bush fire the only environmental benefit of ANCO? Mzeka No, the other environmental benefit is the fact that the bee family is not reduced by using direct naked fire. Because when you use it, a study done in some country in West Africa showed that harvesting from one hive, between two and three thousand bees are killed. So if you go at that rate you are destroying the very thing that is giving you honey. So one advantage is that farmers do not kill bees and therefore the bee population is increasing, pollination is increasing. The second one is the fact that they have become aware of the link between the honey they have in their hives and the environment, the trees that they have around. So they are now participating in planting trees and many of them are now marketing seedlings, which is an added advantage. They are spreading the idea of environmental protection themselves by selling seedlings. Chindong We are sitting in a very cool environment with bee hives planted here and there. Are these trees planted here because of these bee hives? Is that what you teach the people? Mzeka Yes, what you see here, there are eighteen hives and they all have bees. This is what we call a model bee farm. When we bring people to train, we talk about ideas but then we must show in practice what it is that we want them to do. We bring them here and say this farm has these trees because the hives are there. In the dry season the trees give shade to the hives and then the trees also give nectar which the bees need for the honey. So you need also in your farm never to have an exposed farm. The trees do a lot of work for your hives. The temperature of the hive should not be rising and falling, it should always be moderate and the trees will provide that condition. So the trees are here. You see the mango, you see the plum, you see the banana, you see the plantains; all these trees are planted to serve the hive. And then they do protect the environment. Chindong Let me ask you a very practical question. You say you have eighteen hives here. Is there already honey inside, and when are you going to harvest? Mzeka There is honey inside, and we are going to harvest towards the end of this month. This is the harvesting season. Chindong And honey harvested from here can be what quantity? Mzeka From these eighteen hives we usually harvest and sell, in a good year we sell for 150,000 CFA. Chindong Just from these eighteen hives? That is wonderful. Mzeka Yes from these eighteen hives. And look at the land that is devoted to the hives. A very small piece. That is what we are saying, that government, the eye of those who are taking decisions should be opened to the realities of our rural world. There is this eucalyptus which people can cut down and make plank hives; there is bamboo which they can cut down and make hives. So let us just help them by bringing training to them, and they will carry the other activities without any help. Chindong Thank you for making yourself available to us. Mzeka Thank you for coming. I?m very happy. End of track.