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In Zimbabwe crop production and beekeeping fall under Agriculture. Beekeeping can be integrated quite well with crop production. Bees play a major role in crop production through pollination services. Bees are also very important in that they also produce products which human beings can consume and make use of. Whenever bees pollinate crops improved yield and quality of seed are realized. The improved yield/ production ensure food security.
The forest is also a very important habitat for bees and honey production can also take place under such an environment. Forests are sources of a wide range of bee fodder that produces nectar which is used in honey production. The integration of Forests and Crop farming (Agro-forestry) with beekeeping brings a very important initiative in poverty eradication. Bees can be kept in the forests and can only be moved to crop fields whenever they are needed for pollination.
I have personally experienced this practice in several communities and I have together with my team set up a livelihood model where Agro-forestry is integrated with beekeeping. From this set up/ initiative we have realized lots of livelihood options that include:
- Honey production
- Bees wax production
- Harvesting of herbal plants
- Production of sunflowers, fruits, pumpkins, beans etc
- Oil extraction from sunflower seed
- Sunflower cake resulting from oil extraction
- Mushroom harvesting from the forests
- Poles and firewood from the forests
We are using beekeeping in our communities as tools to drive tree planting programs, crop production and fire prevention
Role of ensuring sustainable natural resources management
Trees, vegetation and bees are natural resources in our Zimbabwean environment. The environment if managed well will offer some social and economic benefits to human beings thereby eradicating poverty. Bees do well in the forests and beekeeping in some areas of Zimbabwe has been used by some associations as a tool to prevent fires. Fires destroy bees and other organisms, destroy vegetation, destroy the top soil in the forests and expose the soil to all agents of erosion. Once soil is washed into the rivers and streams water quality becomes in poor and flow is disturbed by the accumulation of silt deposits. Once the environment is destroyed life of flora and fauna is threatened. The dying of bees means there will be no honey to be realized and food security is threatened as pollinators will be not available. The absence of vegetation means there is no bee fodder to make honey from. A sustainable management of natural resources creates an environment where human beings can realize social and economic benefits that improves their well-being.
I have noticed during my visits to some areas that fires are tempered with and caused destruction of natural resources. I have also noticed that forests that are protected well are safe from fires and deforestation. See attached pictures that support my contribution.
From Robert Mutisi.
Working for Manica Boards and Doors and team leader of Working for Bees team.