LUSAKA — Chipepo is a rural area in Kapiri Mphoshi district of central Zambia, where a common feature is that beehives are placed on trees a few meters from dwelling spaces.
A visit to this rural place has revealed that a good number of people are involved in beekeeping.
There is money in honey, locals would like to say. The hives are given to the locals for free by Mpundu Wild Honey Limited, a Zambian honey processing company that is well-known for its organic honey.
Mpundu Wild Honey Limited, based in Kabwe town, central Zambia, was established in 2015. It currently gets its organic honey from beekeepers in Chipepo and Mwinilunga, northwestern Zambia, with whom the company has entered into partnership.
“We make beehives and give them to locals to manage. This is after taking them (locals) through training to ensure they maintain the hives well as that is key for honey production. The more honey a beehive has the more money one gets,” said the company’s director Zhang Zhanping.
According to Zhang, Mpundu Wild Honey Limited has continued to engage locals in its honey production areas in discussions about the benefits of investing in beekeeping both for income generation and for protecting the environment.
“We encourage locals to have hives instead of cutting down trees for purposes of charcoal burning because that not only affects honey production but also degrades the environment. Bees need trees to produce honey and trees need bees to produce fruits and to reproduce,” he explained.
Zhang further revealed that his company started with about 100 beekeepers in 2015.
Today, there are more than 300 local beekeepers working in partnership with Mpundu Wild Honey Limited.
Interactions with residents of Chipepo revealed that beekeeping has helped them to have sustainable livelihoods, something that the majority of them did not have before.
“Homesteads now appreciate having beehives. The idea has been instrumental in ensuring financial security for many people in this area,” said 55-year-old Bernard Liteta, one of the beneficiaries of beehives distributed by Mupundu Wild Honey Limited.
Liteta noted that beekeeping is helping people in Chipepo area, the majority of whom are small-scale farmers, to increase their income capacities.
Liteta’s views were echoed by Golucky Chilukuta, another beekeeper based in Chipepo who revealed that beekeeping has helped to complement his earnings as well as improve his savings.
“Beekeeping has helped me to meet my family’s medical costs and school fees for my children. The more beehives one has the better the returns,” said the 28-year-old Chilukuta, adding that it is a very manageable venture that is not labor-intensive.
And local authorities in Chipepo have since commended Mpundu Wild Honey Limited for partnering with locals, stating that the move is not only bringing about economic benefits but also ensuring that more people stay away from charcoal burning.
Elard Shamboko, the headman of Kabalakata village in Chipepo, said he is happy that more and more people in his area are turning to beekeeping to earn income.
“Unlike charcoal burning which not only grants short-term financial relief but also degrades the environment through deforestation, beekeeping is an investment that pays dividends for many years,” Shamboko asserted.