Bee-keeping saving the environment in Sironko

Bee-keeping saving the environment in Sironko
On the left, Robert Wangoda, displays Masaba integrated Beekeepers’ products which are stored in their offices in Budadiri Town Council offices while on the right, Wangoda stands beside one of the group’s various bee hives in Bumumulo Sub County, Zesui Parish in Sironko District. (Photo Credit: Monica Kyeyune, UNDP Uganda - EBA Project).

SIRONKO - Five years ago, protecting the beautiful mountain lands he grew up on was not 35-year old Rogers Wangoda’s priority.

Despite the fact that they are the source of his livelihood, all he worried about was how to fend for his seven children.

Wangoda lives on the Mount Elgon ranges which although rich with fertile mountain soil and predictable rainfall patterns, are fast succumbing to the effects of climate change. Changing weather patterns and a high population using unsustainable agricultural methods on small fragmented pieces has made this land susceptible to natural disasters.

Key Highlights

  • Shs.27,500,000 - Received by Masaba Integrated Beekeepers to promote activities that reduce pressure on land in the Elgon region.
  • 143 bee hives – provided to the group to enable them expand their bee-keeping initiative in the district.
  • The group’s earnings have doubled to Shs.10million a year, this is due to improved bee keeping methods and increase in the number of hives.
  • Bee-keeping is attractive for farming communities because it reduces pressure on land since it provides farmers with an alternative source of income and also promotes pollination of their crops increasing their yields.

“I did not care how I tilled my land because it did not occur to me that it would cause harm in the long run,” Wangoda explains.

As a result of this kind of attitude held by many farmers, the Elgon ranges have in past few years become vulnerable to climate change and experienced several climate related hazards such as soil erosion, flooding, landslides, drought and intense dry seasons many of which have happened due to man’s activities which remain the biggest threat to the mountain’s ecosystem.

It is for this reason that the Ecosystem Based Adaptation (EBA) project is working in the region to educate, support and train the farmers to adopt environmental friendly agricultural practices in order to minimize land degradation, additionally, they are also encouraged to take on practises such as bee-keeping that reduce pressure on land.

Working in partnership with the Government of Uganda, the EBA project trained the members of Masaba Integrated Beekeepers in modern bee keeping, tree planting and farming friendly practices. They also provided them with 143 bee hives to help them expand their bee-keeping projects.

The Masaba Integrated Bee keepers group is an amalgamation of four small groups who have over 30 members each bringing the total number of members to approximately 120 bee keepers.

Wangoda a bee keeper and a member of the Masaba Integrated Bee-keepers also received these trainings. The training and the new hives have enabled group members to increase production of honey from 100kgs to 300-500kgs per peak season, earning Shs.4-5 million which they use support their families.

“In a year, we are able to harvest 800kgs -1000kg and when we sell this, we pocket close to Shs.10million in a good season,” says Wangoda, who also doubles as the group’s director.

The group has also been able to set-up a one stop honey processing facility with a capacity of 200 litres in Budadiri Town Council which will enable them to refine, package and brand their honey into marketable product that can compete on the national and global market.

For Wangoda, this bump in earnings enabled him to go back to school, he is now final year student at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Science in Agriculture.

“After this course, I want to set up a model farm from which every member of my community and even those out there who are interested in farming can come and learn. I want the community of Mt. Elgon region to learn the best land use practices such as bee keeping, agro forestry contour farming so they can be able to benefit from the mountain without harming it,” says Wangoda.

The group also plans to start a saving and revolving fund end of this year so that farmers can be able to borrow money at a profit during off season to be able to sustain their businesses and families.

The modern beekeeping project implemented in Bumumulo Parish, Zesui Sub-county also received funding totaling Shs.27, 500,000 to carry out EBA activities that reduce the pressure on the land.

Beekeeping as a land use system has been identified as not only being able to increase income in these rural communities neighbouring the Mt. Elgon National park but also enhance food production through pollination. Apart from the bee- keeping farmers are also given tree seedlings to increase forage coverage leading to a variety of trees for both ecological and domestic purposes.

“As a result of the bee-keeping, there is an increased bee population in these communities which has led to improved crop yield especially with annual crops. This is because bees intensify the pollination process,” says Paul Nteza, the National Programme Coordinator, EBA project.
He adds that with the two pronged benefit, communities are able to harvest more honey and also more crops for both home consumption and the market. This helps them have enough income to support their families.

The Mt. Elgon community exists on very small plots of land and the population pressures are very high due to high productivity. This coupled with past displacement and migration patterns for survival provide an opportunity for blending adaptation with on-farm practices that are eco-friendly and increase production.

The experiences from groups such as these will be documented, shared and replicated in other areas within the Mt. Elgon for experiential learning.

The EBA project is implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It is funded by the German Government through the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).  

Article by: Monica Aturinda-Kyeyune, Communications Assistant-UNDP EBA Project.

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