In this Peace Parks TV episode, Trevor Landrey, Operations manager in Zinave National Park in Mozambique, reminisces about an ingenious honey-harvesting method dating back hundreds of years. Custom-built by bees – nature’s alternative to manmade hives – nests high in the park’s baobab trees would’ve posed a challenge to honey gatherers. Bark is smooth with no low-hanging branches, meaning that shimmying up the trunk would not have been an option. In the absence of ladders, harvesters would create their own rungs by knocking sharpened sticks into the tree, reaching the nest and its liquid gold.
With the passing of time and changes in land use from one generation to the next, keeping traditional, and sustainable, farming practices alive in southern Africa’s rural areas is challenging.
Peace Parks Foundation develops and implements conservation-friendly agriculture programmes, led by communities, to enhance food security and help local farmers employ practices which are in harmony with the land. In doing so, communities are able to generate alternative livelihoods and reduce their dependence on the natural resources within protected areas.
One such initiative, in partnership with COmON Foundation, is beekeeping, which not only assists with looking after these biodiversity-boosting swarms, but also harvesting honey sustainably. Highly nutritious and with an endless shelf life, honey is a precious food resource, but also brings significant economic benefits. Being able to take this sweet produce to the marketplace creates an income stream that contributes to uplifting local livelihoods, and the good news is that the demand for organic honey is increasing.
Amongst the conservation agriculture initiatives underway close to Maputo National Park, a monumental 7308 Kgs of honey have been produced in total amongst 93 families. This year, there are 40 families involved in beekeeping and 132 hives, which have produced 280Kgs of honey so far – all sold out! All the members have been trained in management and production techniques. To further promote community engagement and communication, community members who have proven their commitment and interest in the project have been appointed as beekeeping activists and team leaders. These activists are now empowered to provide technical support, motivation and leadership to other beekeepers.
In Simalaha Community Conservancy’s beekeeping project, priority community needs are the training of beekeepers, provision of tools and equipment, and linking to reliable local markets. As of this year, 1,554 beehives have been distributed and received by 250 beekeepers – great progress for many more sweet returns, we hope!
Amongst other conservation agriculture initiatives in communities living alongside protected areas, resources such as seedlings, pesticides, irrigation systems and training in special horticultural methods are made available to farmers to achieve improved crop yields from poor soil. Like beekeeping, these projects are helping farmers establish linkages to take their produce to market.
Peace Parks Foundation and partners are committed to supporting communities living close to protected areas through conservation agriculture, to promote healthy landscapes and sustainable food production.
To learn more about Peace Parks’ conservation agriculture work, visit https://www.peaceparkstv.com/a-sense-of-purpose/