The Beehive Challenge - Agrii - Connecting Agri-science with farming

Emma Dennis Blog

October 1, 2014

The Beehive Challenge

Emma Dennis

On the 26th October myself, along with six others from the agricultural industry are heading to Tanzania with the charity Farm Africa to participate in a ‘challenge’ – the Beehive Challenge.

It all started when a friend asked if I would fancy being a part of the ‘Bee Team.’ Unfortunately it wasn’t the ‘A Team’ but apparently it’s the next best thing! Since that day six weeks ago it’s been a whirlwind of planning, organising and the odd injection.

farm-africa

Farm Africa is a charity working to end hunger for farming families in eastern Africa and its Forest Management project in the Nou Forest, Tanzania, aims to help farmers to set up small-scale businesses that preserve the forest and turn back the tide of deforestation.

As part of this work Farm Africa is training forest communities to set up businesses selling high-quality honey. Our role, and the challenge, is to build much-needed beehives, and when I say build, I mean build from scratch, and deliver the beehives to the local community. Discussion is currently underway on how many of the beehives we can aim to deliver in the three days that we will spend honing our carpentry skills – but you can be sure it will be enough to make it a real challenge! Fortunately we will be working side by side with carpenters and farmers from the local community who know how to build a modern beehive, so there will be no free-styling on the design!

A traditional beehive placed in a tree

In the Nou Forest thousands of people are reliant on the forest alone for their income and survival. Devastatingly this has led to increased levels of deforestation as people chop down trees for timber, to sell as firewood and to clear land for grazing animals. It is a story you hear all too often. However, with the help of Farm Africa the people of the Nou Forest are trying to move towards more sustainable forest management.

The Farm Africa project is linking forest communities and district governments and is working in partnership with them to help identify alternatives to cutting down the forest, whilst still enabling the communities to make an income and support themselves. Empowering the local communities to make an income out of the forests resources encourages them to work to protect it, and instead of a vicious circle of destruction, it can help drive a virtuous circle of environmental protection and increasing incomes.

The trip was initiated by Matthew Naylor, a flower and potato farmer from Lincolnshire and the ‘Bee Team’ is a mixture of farmers, journalists, a lobbyist and myself, along with Farm Africa staff from the UK and local Farm Africa staff in Tanzania. The whole visit is set to be real eye opener – and hard work. Farm Africa staff on the ground in Tanzania have carefully thought through how to make the best use of our time for the greatest benefit of the forest community.

As well as the practical work that we will be doing on the ground in Tanzania, the trip also aims to raise the profile of Farm Africa’s work in eastern Africa and how it’s making a difference in the fight against hunger.

Tanzanian farmers stand in front of a beehive

As a team we are hoping to raise £50,000 to help support local communities. If you feel like you could contribute towards this in any way please do so using the link here . Remember every little helps and we have to start somewhere!

Over the next few weeks I will be updating you on our progress and you will gain an insight into the community where we will be working and see how the money that we raise and the work that Farm Africa are doing can really help to improve the lives of farmers in eastern Africa.

Agrii have very kindly had a role to play in sponsoring this trip and for that I would like to thank them. The work we will be undertaking aligns well with the Agrii ‘ethos’, supporting the champions of the countryside, helping them to improve their output and transfer their knowledge for the greater good of the farming industry. It may be in Tanzania rather than the UK but the principle is the same and as members of the farming community we are all in it together, and together we can help improve rural lives. For more information about the other participants, Farm Africa and the trip please visit www.farmafrica.org/beehive-challenge

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