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Honey makes money in the Nou Forest

20 October 2017

Honey makes money in the Nou Forest

In the two years since 45-year-old Joyce Lali from the remote village of Erri in the Babati District Joyce holding a jar of honey in Erri village, Tanzania.of Tanzania became a beekeper, she has created a buzzing beehive business that continues to grow.

After taking part in Farm Africa’s Big Beehive Build 2015, where women from the UK food industry worked alongside Joyce and other women from Erri to build 90 beehives, Joyce received Langstroth beehives and training in how to run a sustainable honey making business from Farm Africa.

As part of a forest management project funded by the EU, Farm Africa worked with local farmers to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the nearby endangered Nou Forest, and develop forest-friendly businesses like honey production that help conserve the forest. 

“Formerly, we didn’t know about the value of forests,” Joyce told us, “we were cutting down trees and didn’t realise how important trees were. But then we started beekeeping and we realise it is important for us to preserve the forest for the bees.”

Unlike other local farmers, Joyce and the other Erri beekeepers make products such as soap with the honey:

“We are a bit different to the other beekeepers because we concentrate on adding value to the honey we produce. We sell very little raw honey, and instead we add value to the honey by making other products from it. One of our group members, Zebediah, was trained by Farm Africa on value addition and then he came back and became our instructor and taught us how to make various products.”

Before becoming a beekeeper, soil degradation and a reduction in soil fertility meant that Joyce could only grow enough food for her family to eat. But now, with the introduction of beekeeping, Joyce earns an income from the honey she produces.

With the money from selling forest-friendly products, life has changed for the better for Joyce’s family:

“My income has increased since we’ve been selling forest-friendly products. The money I earn means I can send my children to school and also I save money by making products like soap,” she says,

“Previously we lived in a house with a thatched grass roof. Now we have a roof made from iron sheets. The major thing is that now we are able to pay our children’s school fees.”

Since taking part in the Big Beehive Build 2015, the buzz about the Erri group’s honey business has continued to grow. Joyce told us “Last year we won a prize for entrepreneurship in the farmers’ exhibition in Arusha. This made us well known, so we are now recognised at district level.”

Joyce is one of many female farmers who have benefited from the beehives provided by the Big Beehive Build. Although traditional beehives suspended from trees already existed in Erri, it was culturally unacceptable for women to climb trees.

Through building Langstroth beehives, which sit on the ground, women, who historically were dependent on their husbands and were not economically active, are now able to engage in honey production too.

“I send special appreciation to Farm Africa as an organisation for making us women seen. Before, we were invisible in the community. You have helped us increase the value of females in the community. Before, we were oppressed by men and we didn’t earn any of our own money. Now, I earn my own money and I can buy the things I need myself.”

Read the latest updates from the Big Beehive Build 2017, currently underway in nearby Bermi village.

Joyce Lali with beehives in Erri village, Babati, Tanzania