Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

Member profile

Mr. Robert Mutisi

Organization: Manica Boards and Doors
Country: Zimbabwe
Field(s) of expertise:
I am working on:

I am currently working commercial and community/ social forestry and beekeeping projects as the chairperson of Makoni beekeepers association. I also head a team of experts in beekeeping called Working for Bees. I am also the editor and publisher of "Bees First Solutions" and "African Bee friendly farmers" face pages on facebook.

This member contributed to:

    • Women have been distanced culturally from owning land and making decisions related to land usage. This has negatively impacted on the efforts from women to engage into sustainable soil management.

      Women are more connected to land activities than men if we look at farming. Women in rural areas spend most of their time doing farming whilst men are most of their time at work in towns and still hold on to decisions to be passed on land use and soil management. Even though women spend most of their time in farming activities decision making remains a responsibility for men.

      My understanding is that women can as well make right decisions like men if given the space to do so.This space can only be created if men start a new era of seeing things through the gender lens.

    • My name is Robert Mutisi from Zimbabwe.  A forester and Beekeeper by profession.

      One story I need to share in support of SDG 2 is that of a sunflower project that we set up in one of the farms in our community. The project emphasized the importance of bees in pollination and how honey bees can be integrated to crop farming. The improved seed production and honey ensures improved food security and the reduction of hunger. The stages of the project are seen in the attached document which I produced and it is a story that can be shared. We are encouraging farmers to grow sunflowers and put bees for pollination. During the process farmers can also get honey that can be used as food and medicine. The seed from sunflowers can be used for oil production and cake for stock feed. 

      Two additional stories share the importance of bees and were realised by Mrs Bhebhe and Chitora primary school. 

      I would also like to share a presentation I was invited to give by Umbowo Development services.  It highlights the importance of beekeeping for farming activities to a group of farmers in Zvishavane. One major point that came out was that of enhancing crop production through pollination. This will eventually improve food security in the country thereby reducing hunger and vulnerability.

    • 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:

      1. Honey production
      2. Bees wax production
      3. Harvesting of herbal plants
      4. Production of sunflowers, fruits, pumpkins, beans etc
      5. Oil extraction from sunflower seed
      6. Sunflower cake resulting from oil extraction
      7. Mushroom harvesting from the forests
      8. 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.

    • Hello Walter Mwasaa.

      My community is ever increasing on its capacities to respond to shocks. We are a beekeeping group in Zimbabwe and as we look backwards, the past few years we have been improving in the way we respond to shocks. We really acknowledge our resilience capabilities that has enabled the households and community to remain functional. Our desire and passion to keep bees as a livelihood option has increased in the community and a number of households are getting some honey for their own consumption, are making sales to generate income that enables them to send children to school and also schools are running clubs under the beekeepers Association and this has enabled the club members to pay for their fees and also the generated income at the school has also been used to buy stationary at the school. The model of schools getting into beekeeping is also attracting many schools who are likely to join the Association soon. We have also as beekeepers encouraged one another to establish trees that go with crops in the same area and also those that can be planted on the same farm with crops but on an area that is not good for crops. Such trees include avocado, peaches, mangoes, citrus and apples. Some exotics planted on other areas included Eucalyptus species , acacia species etc and these are multipurpose trees which are bee friendly. Also crops are being inter-cropped near apiaries with sunflower, sugar beans, cow peas, soya beans okra, water melons, butter nuts and pumpkins being the most favored. Edible weeds such as black jack is also left to thrive in areas which are closer to apiary sites as this is an important source of bee food. The attached photos show areas closer to apiary sites that are being used to produce crops, fruits and honey at the same time. This model that we are using integrates crop production and bee farming and provides several livelihoods options to our community.

      From ROBERT

    • I personally believe that for a community to be resilient it has to continuously assess and address issues related to vulnerability. This follows a cyclic pattern and is a continuous process. It is for sure very difficult to give specific outcomes per any given time since the situation is continuously changing. There are a number of strategies which can be used by communities for them to remain and continue to become more resilient. Some of the major strategies that are put in place within communities include, alternatives, changing consciousness and hold on actions. Some other strategies include having a compelling vision, sharing resources and maintaining a health ecosystem diversity through sustainable management. Application of such strategies has no time limit. In trying to be resilient old and new strategies can be used. Let us not forget that we have local knowledge/ Indigenous knowledge and modern knowledge which can be used by communities to be resilient. The new knowledge is built on the existing knowledge in most communities.

      What I know from the community I come from is that, important assets in the reduction of vulnerabilities lies within the people and groups within my community and this has been supported by Morrow (2008) and Lerch (2015). People within my community are viewed as active agents in the process and they possess local knowledge, skills and connections which are very important resources in building and maintaining resilience (Murphy, 2007).

      The use of tools such as social barometer, community asset mapping, community appreciative inquiry and ABC (Attitude, behaviour and context) will see communities building resilience but this has to be continuously looked at since the environment is always changing and cannot be given any time frame hence strategies and tools to deal with resilience must also keep changing.

    • The activities that I know that successfully promote pollinator insects in my area are:

      1.      Flowering plants  that are coming out at different times of the year

      2.      A variety of crops that are grown in the fields and gardens

      3.      Agroforestry practices in my area where we have macadamia being grown in maize fields

      4.      Growing of perennial and annual plants that provide food for the insects

      5.      Ridging and leaving other areas fallow where insects can nest

      6.      Conservation farming where the land at times is not tilled as this will disturb the underground nests of the insects

      7.      Use of integrated pests management systems in farming

      What needs to be done to encourage pollinator friendly practices?

      1.      Awareness programs to be intensified in the communities

      2.      Stop the wild fires in the communities that destroys vegetation and the habitats of insects

      3.       Stop deforestation that destroys the habitat of pollinators as well as the food source

      4.      Encourage people to start projects such as beekeeping so that they conserve forests and vegetation areas

      5.      Encourage communities to carry out conservation and organic faming

      6.      Establishing nurseries of multipurpose trees and plants in the community

      7.      Minimize the use of chemicals

      What training, support or information do we require?

      1.      The community will need more awareness training on the importance of pollinators to our lives. This will have to cover the whole of my community and must be driven by the citizens themselves.

      2.      Raising of tree and plants seedlings that can be planted to increase the food and habitat base for pollinators. This needs funding.

      3.      Community members to start on beekeeping project (inclusive of women and youths). This call for little start- up capital to support this project.

      4.      Government alone cannot address this. Communities must be engaged to participate and they must be motivated to take part through incentives such as starting projects like beekeeping.