BY KB MPOFU Four months after they embarked on a beekeeping project, villagers from Lupaka in Matabeleland North’s Lupane district are starting to see the benefits of their work as they have started harvesting honey and other by products such as wax and propolis.
“We didn’t expect that as women and our children, we will one day have our own beekeeping project.
“We have always heard about such initiatives from others, but now we have it in our hands.
“This is the first development of any kind that we have ever had in this area and we are very grateful,” said Basikhangele Ndlovu (48).
Ndlovu is part of more than 305 villagers from the district who are expected to benefit from the beekeeping project introduced early this year by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in collaboration with the ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and funded by the Africa Development Bank.
The project is also being implemented in Gwayi, Gomoza and Menyezwa where beneficiaries each received 200 hives each at the beginning of the year.
The villagers received beekeeping training through the ILO.
On June 9, members of the Lupaka apiary harvested 31 kilogrammes of honey from the first two hives and they plan to harvest the next 10 hives in September.
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“We aren’t in a rush to make a profit yet as we still have to formally register our business but we are expecting much more from the remaining hives and there is hope that we could be onto something really big,” said Nkululeko Nkomo a member of the Lupaka apiary.
Nkomo said the beekeeping project in the long run was expected to turn around the fortunes in ward 10 of Lupane and reduce the number of youths risking their lives by emigrating to neighbouring South Africa.
“As parents, we are basically mentoring the young ones so that they can take over from us and run this project on their own, and we wish to see those who have left the village coming back and be part of this initiative, instead of dying in illegal mines or committing crime and rotting in foreign prisons,” he said.
Water is one of the biggest challenges faced by the upcoming beekeepers at Lupaka and Nkomo said part of their future plans is to drill a borehole, acquire a jojo tank and build toilet facilities at the apiary and eventually a nutrition garden to provide the villagers with fresh vegetables.
Speaking at the event in Lupaka, Thokozile Chitepo the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts and Recreation challenged the villagers to also be part of the solution to the water challenges.
“You must also do your part by working together with your village heads, councillor, and member of parliament,” Chitepo said.
“You must never get tired of asking for these things from your leaders, many other villages in Lupane are also looking for water, it’s not just you.’
Hopolang Phororo, the ILO country director for Zimbabwe and Namibia commended the villagers for their unity and commitment to the project.
“At ILO we are very interested in supporting women and youth empowerment, what we want to see is you making money, not just money to take care of your families but money which helps you to contribute to the empowerment of people in other communities,” Phororo said.
“This is possible if you continue working together, continue with the hard work that you have started.”