By Guest Writer

Last week as I was reading, I came across a research brief which was about enhancing women participation in apiculture for livelihood and environmental conservation in Albertine graben that was done by Inclusive Green Economy Network –East Africa (IGEAN-EA) which is hosted by Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO). This research was done on women bee keepers in Kyakaboga oil refinery resettlement in Hoima district.

The research highlighted how apiculture have boosted the lives of women in Kyakaboga village and challenges they a facing. Through reading the research paper, I found out a lot of opportunities in this enterprise which is untapped due to low knowledge about apiculture.

According to the study ,Women in Kyakabooga has been helped on how to increase their production in apiculture by Afiego that have extended extension services to the groups dealing in apiculture enterprise.

As a young beneficiary in apiculture enterprise, this research attracted my attention and opened my mind on how I can influence my fellow youth to tap in this green economic enterprise that does not harm environment.

The research indicated that several farmers in Kyakabooga village have embarked on apiculture as an alternative enterprise from which they derive their livelihood and parents have been able to pay school fees for their children. Due to the food insecurity and increased poverty in many households in Albertine graben, NGOs like Afiego came into action to change the situation by promoting beekeeping as alternative enterprise.

It should be noted that there is high market for honey both locally, regionally and internationally but unfortunately few individuals are involved in the enterprise and even those involved use local knowledge which does not meet market demands.

For example the research indicated that Uganda’s annual honey production potential is estimated at half million tons ,however the country produces only 5000 metric tons of honey estimated at $2.5billion  and this amounts to only 1% of the national annual production potential.

It should be noted that the government earmarked bee keeping as one of the National strategic intervention under the poverty eradication action plan and plan for modernization of agriculture to support income generation for rural communities and export, unfortunately no effort is being done to sensitize public about this profitable enterprise that needs less space, little supervision and less capital.

With the increasing unemployment in the country, this would be a good opportunity and enterprise for government to priorities and train public about bee keeping to absorb number of rural youth that are in villages without jobs. Furthermore, the enterprise is environmental friendly, and non-destructive economic activity offering positive externalities to the environment.

As a resident in Kyakaboga and apiary farmer, the government should improve tree integration in Kyakabooga resettlement site and adjacent landscapes. Through the relevant local government structures, government should distribute trees in Kyakaboga that can be accessed for free and planted to favor the enterprise and thereby supporting forest restoration.

The government and civil society organizations should work hand in hand to skill the public with functional literacy and numeracy plus entrepreneurship and hands on training on apiculture technologies through exposure and coaching to improve on honey value addition and effective harvesting.

The government should finalize the national apiculture policy and ensure that its recommendations are fully implemented .There is also need for National planning authority and national bureau of statistics to provide reliable data on bee keeping in Uganda for purposes of learning and making informed decisions.

The author is Gerald Barekye {geraldbarekye@gmail.com}, a research associate and farmer.

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