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Promoting commercial beekeeping for sustainable livelihoods in Malawi


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Malawi are promoting commercial beekeeping for income generation and livelihoods diversification among smallholder farmer groups in Malawi, by providing capacity building and also beekeeping equipment to 125 farmer groups in ten districts.

The initiative, which targets distribution of 7 000 beehives and essential beekeeping equipment, is being done with support from the KULIMA and Afikepo programmes which are being funded by the European Union and the PROSPER project funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. These three projects are being implemented in 14 districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Mzimba, Nkhatabay, Nkhotakota, Kasungu, Salima, Phalombe, Mangochi, Balaka, Chiradzulu, Chikwawa, Thyolo, and Mulanje

“We are training farmers and providing the necessary resources to farmer groups with the aim of promoting beekeeping as an income generating activity for inclusive and sustainable livelihoods. This will also help to secure continuity of the farmer field schools where farmers are empowered to attain food, nutrition and income security sustainably,” Noella Kamwendo, Project Coordinator for the FAO-led KULIMA project said.

So far 4 104 hives have already been distributed including honey extractors, smokers, protective equipment, honey sieves, other essential bee handling tools to 125 farmer field schools, directly targeting 3 750 farmers of which 45 percent are female and 35 percent youth.

Through this initiative, beekeeping offers an alternative source of income thus increasing resilience of communities that are otherwise solely reliant on farming, while at the same time helping to draw the potential health benefits that honey offers, for improved nutrition and health.

“We have received 30 hives and feel excited about beekeeping especially since this is not a labour intensive enterprise, and yet it reaps great rewards. All we need is to take care of the surrounding environment, otherwise, any one young or old can practice beekeeping. And then again, bee products such as honey are very popularand can bring in good income more so now when people prefer it for its medicinal properties,” says Emily Njete.

The target FFS groups have received hands-on training on beekeeping site selection, beehive installation, colonization, beehive inspection, record keeping, and pest and disease management. Further mentoring and support training is being provided on bee products harvesting, handling and processing, and marketing to build their capacity to manage the entire bee keeping value chain. Follow up trainings on honey harvesting, marketing shall be conducted in the coming months once the hives are due for harvesting.

As the initiative rolls out, the plan distribution of 7 000 hives across the country will enable overall production of up to 336 metric tonnes of honey, and other bee-related products, which would support income generation for the groups and the economic empowerment of the smallholder farmers involved.


For more information contact: [email protected]