I am a widowed woman but no longer frustrated because I use income from beekeeping activities to invest in other productive activities – last year I did not touch any hoe, instead I hired a tractor to plough my farm!
Bees [to mean beekeeping] are enough, I remember I almost got bitten by a black mamba [a snake] in search for honey in the forest. I no longer need to go up there [in the forest] again I no longer feel stressed paying school fees for my children, in the past I was very much disgraced…I borrowed TZS. 40,000 to pay for school fee, but ended up repaying one sack of paddy worthy TZS. 100,000!
We [the group] are like conservators, by practicing beekeeping we know that bees depend on the environment around so we don’t allow anyone to cut trees or burn them down…I am very much enthusiastic about the project and I am now a good teacher to others. I would advise the villagers to ensure that during village land use planning exercise, a large chunk of land is set aside for tree planting and beekeeping activities. This will reduce pressure on protected forests since the woodlots would provide firewood too.
We received 50 modern beehives from EAMCEF, in 2016 alone each hive produced 15-20 litres of honey – five times the amount produced from traditional beehives! In 2016 alone, we sold 250 litres of honey for TZS. 2,500,000 and used part of the money to lease a two-acre farm where we planted sugarcane. From sugarcane, we earned another TZS. 2,500,000 and used part of it to initiate another business – we bought 10 bicycles and hired them for transport services within the village, from bicycles we got TZS. 5,000,000 within 6 months. Each group member receives a 25% dividend, I used mine to buy a bicycle for my son who used to walk 14KM every day for school. With the bicycle, my son can now get back home early and do his assignments… he now gets 70-80% grades than the usual 50-55% in his exams. Our success as a group has promoted formulation of 15 other beekeeping groups within the village, villagers are no longer risking their lives in the forests for income.
Our group has made a difference in the village, we are lending money to people in critical needs, especially to members of the village community banks (VICOBA) without charging any interest. Our group saved the lives of 4 villagers who were very sick but unable to afford hospital costs.