Since the late 1990s, the global bee population has been in decline, as a result of climate change, increased pesticide use and mite infestations. People across the globe have taken steps to help save the bees by setting up beehives right in their backyards. Urban beekeeping is on the rise as citizens try to save the polinators that play an vital role in our food systems.
In Tanzania, 99% of all honey and beeswax production is carried out using traditional methods. This powerful local production contributes approximately USD 1.7 million annually to the economy.
World Vision Child Ambassador Katana Bosetti traveled to Tanzania in 2016 and met one unforgettable beekeeper named Ernest.
Bee farmer Ernest Mazigwa from Tanzania. PHOTO: World Vision Canada
It was a bright, sunny, day as we drove through Kilago. As we approached a small cluster of mud and thatch homes, I saw an elderly gentleman standing under a tree waiting for us. He seemed shy as we drove up but as soon the doors to our vehicles opened, he greeted us with a giant, genuine smile. His name: Ernest Mazigwa. His passion: beekeeping.
Ernest explains to Katana how his bee farm works. PHOTO: Paul Bettings
Ernest was educated by his grandfather at a very young age about beekeeping and he made it his life’s work.
When World Vision began working in Kilago in 2013, Ernest joined training to learn about modern beekeeping and how to improve production.
“I started with minimal production of honey before World Vision’s support,” Ernest told me.
Immediately after his training he was given 18 bee hives and then made 10 more on his own through the education he was provided. “I have 48 now!” he said, beaming with delight.
Ernest was very animated and proud, as he let me know how his community has benefitted from his bee farm. “They are buying my honey, using it for food for their children and are now healthier.”
Ernest's wooden bee hives. PHOTO: Paul Bettings
He told us there is a big difference in his income with the modern beehives, and as a result, he is now able to help send his grandchildren to school. “My big hope is to make my farm a learning center for other farmers in the community who have yet to receive training,” he said.
As I parted ways with Ernest and our vehicles drove off, I couldn’t help but smile. It was made very clear that the training Ernest was provided through World Vision helped transform his career and thus, his life. I am confident that with his knowledge and passion for beekeeping, his biggest hope of leading others to better their lives and their community will come true.
Beehives and Beekeeping Kits
from the World Vision Gift Catalogue are smart gifts and provide a great small business opportunity. Equipped with a kit and hives, beekeepers can produce up to 50 kilos of honey a year to sell or trade. Sweet!
By Kristian Foster and Katana Bosetti