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Big Beehive Build Success

02 July 2015

Big Beehive Build Success

In June 2015 nine senior women business leaders from the UK food industry travelled to Tanzania to take part in Farm Africa’s Big Beehive Build and improve the lives of women farmers in the Nou Forest.

Tanzania is losing forests at a disastrous rate of 300,000 hectares every year - around 1,500 football fields every day. As forest loss reduces water supply for local communities, they struggle to grow enough food to eat and turn to cutting down trees for income to survive – a vicious circle destroying the very resource they need to survive for the long-term.

However, the forest is home to millions of bees, and bee-keeping is a forest-friendly business that enables communities to make money without cutting down more trees.

Traditional-style beehives are situated high in the trees. As it is not practically and culturally acceptable for women to climb trees, the task of collecting and selling honey has always been limited to men. Until now that is.

Working alongside the Erri community in Tanzania the Big Beehive Challenge group built an apiary of Langstroth beehives, which are placed on the ground and thus are easily accessible to women. Harvesting the precious honey is sure to bring the women a new and valuable source of income that will enable them to pay for clothes, medicines and school fees for their children.

“It’s especially difficult for women in Africa,” says Judith Batchelar, director of the Sainsbury’s brand, and one of the women who joined the build. “Giving them independence is incredibly important so they can develop businesses and an income for themselves.”

The group of senior women had just 3 days to build 90 beehives, but they nailed the challenge. As Kate Ewart, product development director at Tesco, sums up the group’s success: “We managed to take a pile of wood, nails and wire and turn them into something fantastic, 90 beehives with the help of the local community.”

Swapping their regular array of meetings in the UK for hammers, nails, pliers, wires and timber in Tanzania’s Nou Forest was totally worth it as April Preston, group director of innovation and NPD at 2 Sisters Food Group, stated: “It’s about building something sustainable, supporting people’s livelihoods,” she says. “It’s been great to leave something behind for the community so they can have a better standard of living”, Kate Ewart adds.

As if building 90 beehives in 3 days wasn’t challenging enough, the team also had to reach a £50,000 fundraising target, funds that will be used by Farm Africa to help more rural families in eastern Africa build a more prosperous life that allows them to take charge of their futures.


Find out how the group managed to tackle the challenge.
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