YAP Proposal #8: “BEE inspired” (Oluwaseun Johnson, Nigeria)

johnson1

I am Oluwaseun Johnson, a 33yr old entomologist, and a dual citizen of Nigeria and Ghana. I am the principal partner of OKJ Wildlife and love to represent the insect constituency. I currently train farmers for USAID MARKETS 2 in Nigeria to keep bees to generate income from sales of produce, improve on house hold nutrition from consumption of produce and engage bees in pollination intervention to improve crop yield. I strongly ‘beelieve’ that agriculture powered by youths can give better means of sustainable livelihood, we must however be careful not to repeat the mistakes of those gone before us, one of which is use and abuse of insecticides.

So let’s get started. Someone once said “We once grew food without chemicals. We never grew food without bees”. One out of three bites of food comes from a bee pollinated plant and I am sure we may all be in the knowing of a famous quote credited to Albert Einstein. “If the bees disappears from the surface of the globe man would have no more than four years to live”. According to figures from the USDA in 2013, the estimated annual amount by which bee pollination increases crop yield is to the tune of about $15 billion in the United States alone. Wow.

I have as well learnt from academic and practical work on the field in agriculture, the adverse effects of use and abuse of pesticides and also the economic and social effect of keeping bees. This two are like say ‘Tom and Jerry’. The advantageous one; beekeeping, for me has four benefits; three very noticeable ones which are pollination interventions, household nutrition and income generation from sales of produce. My project ‘Beekeeping for Rural Development’ is tailored at training and empowering unemployed youths particularly the vulnerable in rural areas in beekeeping. This is geared towards achieving the three objectives above and further discouraging the abuse and possibly use of harmful insecticides.

I am quite concerned about young mothers as I have seen how beekeeping; which is less labour and time demanding can transform a family when women come to accept it. It helps in simple healthy regimens for controlling health conditions to weaning young children, and improving household nutrition. Fathers talk about increase yield when a pollination intervention is employed in the farming of some crops and how money is generated from sales of extra produce from the bees. That which is as much motivating is the great reduction in bush burning in beekeeping communities and the great improvement in flora and fauna in such areas. It is so motivating for me when one single agricultural practise impacts positively this much in the lives of rural dwellers

I will benefit from off-taking their produce (Hive produce only) and from a demonstration apiary that will be set up in the midst of the community, this will be available for research purposes for various institutions and the produce generated will as well generate income for me. The community will as well see impacts in their health from api-therapy, increased yield from crops cultivated and a healthy environment.

johnson2Haven trained for USAID MARKETS Nigeria, I have been able to travel across a couple of states in Nigeria and have conducted feasibility and Farmer Interest Analysis studies. There are communities where bees are found in almost every roof of each house and all these folks do is to ‘burn’ them to death.
I intend setting up a demonstration apiary and training and empowering ten unemployed or under-employed youths. 6 women and 4 men. They must be below 40 years in age. I intent to use success stories from Niger and Kaduna states of Nigeria where I trained for USAID as the measuring checklist for success in this community in Kwara State.

Half of the grant will be used in purchasing a total of about 160 Kenyan Top Bar hives, hive tools and bee suites. Each youth will have ten hives each and the demonstration apiary will have a maximum of 60 hives. About 30% of the grant will be use for overheads in cost of training and installation of the demonstration apiary. The last 10% of the grant will be saved to buy back produce in about 8 months time after the project starts. I hope the project will not exceed 12 months until the first buy back.

Let me end with the words of Henry David Thoreau. “There are certain pursuits which if not wholly poetic and true do at least suggest a nobler and finer relationship to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance”. Beekeeping is one of many organic agricultural practises that will give Africa a leap in an attempt to meet the 2030 zero hunger challenge.

BEE Inspired, ‘Beelieve’ and Bee good.

Blogpost submitted by Oluwaseun Johnson (Nigeria) – oluwaseunjohnson(at)hotmail.com
Pictures Illustration courtesy: Enoch Bahago and Malick Lingana

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #8 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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125 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #8: “BEE inspired” (Oluwaseun Johnson, Nigeria)

  1. thats amazing to know, i didn’t know bees are these useful and important. agricultural business is a way forward for income generation here in Nigeria for both the employed and the unemployed. I will like to know more about bees and there by product (honey).

    1. Thats correct sir, There are six produce from the bees. Honey, beeswax, propolis, bee bread or pollen, royal jelly and bee venom, the very important one is the effect on pollination of flowering plants. I hope to organise talk shows soon. I will keep you in mind sir.
      Kind ergards

    2. Thanks sir, we have six produce from the bees, Honey, Pollen or bee bread, royal jelly, propolis, bee venom and beeswax. I hope to organise a public lecture in collaboration with some media outfit. i will keep you posted sir. I do write on my personal blog from time to time, please check at http://okjwildlife.blogspot.com.ng/.
      Thanks sir

  2. Very inspiring project. It should be supported as all the whole world is looking toward making this planet to be more secure by increasing food production before 2030.

    1. yes oh my brother, Agric works, you are always welcome to the Gidan Zakara apiary. I hope you will not fear bee stings.

  3. Wow… I’m really proud of this gentleman. I knew he would go places. He greatly deserves all the support he can receive… a man of chatacter and virtue… a great leader he is…

    1. If you understood Hausa, I would say ‘Nagode’ which means thank you. Dont let my head over swell sha. I am doing all I can to prove that agriculture works beacause it indeed works. na to just get our hand dirty smaaaaalllllll

  4. This is an eye opener which i believe needs a lot of support. A means of improving livelihood and create job opportunities for the youth and alleviate poverty in our society. Thumbs up

    1. Thanks bro, I will soon come to Ghana for a session. Thats what our alma mata made out of me. I know the future is sure with agriculture and I hope to be one of the early birds. Let keep hope alive

  5. Great project with good prospects. Not only is it nature friendly but also presents employment opportunities to the youth which is much needed in Nigeria-Africa. This project should be supported because it is targeted at making positive impact in the communities in which the project will be undertaken as well as transform the lives of the people there.

    1. yippe, I thought you will add Ghana too, I will come home soon and get you to own an apiary, lol. I am quite concerned about youth who at risk of social ills. I am more concerned about the female child. Some of the stories I hear on the field is not healthy. If these once have a way to help themselves, the scope of issues covered cant be quantified. Lets all play our role in every little way. Thanks sis

    1. yes boss, You men in ICT should begin to think of how you would help us fight this vandalisation of an issue. We all eat so agriculture is every ones concern no matter you occupation/job. Remember that yoruba song we sang in school? ‘Iwe kiko, laisi oko, ati ada, koi pe oo, ko pe ooo’ ………. There is no knowledge without the hoe and cutlass. lol

  6. This is a very good project indeed and it will help to fight food insecurity as we focus on vision 2030 .Am happy for you my friend, and keep it up! Bees are good pollinators n this improves crop production.

    1. Yes ma’am. I think it can also be in some form qualify as wildlife conservation because of its ability to serve as K and R stratergist. they play a good role in the ecological ninche. In this case we will be looking at more than one, two, three species. Lets leave that for a rainy day. Thanks a million sis

    1. Abi sir ‘Igbe lowo wa’ you know at my home in citec, we farm most of our vegetables in our back yard. not all of us will be farmers but all of us will eat, and does of us that are not farmers can afford gardens. you can imagine how much that will save us. I meet someone in Italy that farms carrots on his roof in a big city in Europe. I am a farmer and I am proud to be one. Thaks a millon sir.

    1. Kudos ma’am. thanks very much for your support. Dont worry, we will soon get honey to your door steps. Cheers

    1. Thanks bro, We will soon talk about api-therapy. BVT and honey as a treatment for burns. i should come to Keffi one of these days. Thanks sir. Cheers

  7. With these I believe that bee is of great importance to human existence apart from the honey production for our daily needs.
    Good work Oluwaseun.

    1. Thanks ma, thank God Kwara is not far from Isanlu, We will establish an apiary in your name in the soonest future. Kind regards ma.

  8. Well done. You are really impacting the world and I’m inspired. I never knew anything about bees apart from what they produce ‘honey’ but i have to know more. I wish this project could extend to many parts of Africa. Kudos, once again.

    1. Thanks bro, There is much going on in beekeeping in Africa and in the world. Its little in Africa anyway but we hope it gets better. They produce six produce but the most important is their influence in pollinating food crops. It is also important because they are in no way a form of agricultural pest unlike a few other insects like the beetle family. there is just so much benefit from bees in agriculture and environmental issues that is there to exploit. thanks for the commnet.

    1. Thanks bro, lets keep talking via mail about your farm, I am sure we can work something out on getting you an apiary on your farm premises.

  9. more power to ur elbow. your dreams will come true and whatsoever u aspire shall be urs in Jesus name.u question there a lot of fake honey mixed with sahcarrine. those fake ones do they cause any harm to our body cos Nigerians sell fake cos of money n they will lie to u it’s original

    1. Thanks sis for your prayers and support. I have attended a couple of meetings at the Veterniary Council of Nigeria and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria. My boss was also at a multi ministerial meeting at the federal Ministry of Agriculture all this was this year to try bring standards into the beekeeping industry and enforce regulations. Soon all these fake honey sellers will have to run into hiding.
      However, I also think Nigerians are ignorant of so much when it come to identifying good honey, we tend to discredit original honey too sometimes. For example, colour is not a test of quality as honey from different botanical or flora sources will look and taste slightly differently. the match test or drop test are all tests of moisture content only which should not be more that 20% moisture content. the only true test is a chemical test which can only be done in a lab such as that in FIRO in Oshodi. that is what government wants to do and certify all honey sellers and bottlers. I guess I need to work more on my blog and publication to inform our folks
      thanks sis

  10. Such projects as this need all the support available. Rural dwellers, youths, women, the girl child, the environment, the economy- name it, all benefit in one endeavour. Well done YAP and kudos Seun

    1. Thanks sir, I will work hard in the few years ahead to get as much funding to cover not less than 2,000 rural dwellers. When the changes begin to become evident, it will catch fire and then we will be thankful to God as we are now for giving us YAP from #GCARD3, their donors, #YPARD #cfs #zerohunger #unfao #ilovebees and many more organisations helping to make agriculture sustainable and supporting youth participation.

    1. Thanks si, the sky is indeed the limit for what we can all achieve if we as youths practice and/or support agriculture

  11. great work and keep up the good work. Mind not that I am a biologist by training, you are the first person true practical entomologist I know outside of core academia. All the best.

    1. Thanks sir, I hope more will join me as we need more entomologists on the field. Particularly against the use and abuse of insecticides; it’s effects on insects that are vital for pollination
      Kind regards sir

    1. Yes my brother, there is honey which you know, beeswax, royal jelly, pollen or bee bread, propolis and bee venom. but most importantly pollination of food crops

  12. Hi seun,
    I must say that your write up is fantastic. Good shoot. So, let me highlight a few comments:
    What particular total number of farmers/people are you working towards?. Will the group of youth to be empower transmit the knowledge or they will be working for you and lastly in your budget, I can see 50%, 30% and 10%…..I think the remaining 10% is missing.
    Thanks

    1. Thanks a million sir, I am targeting 10 farmers/youths and will provide them with 10 hives each and hive tool. I will train and mentor them for two harvest seasons and a will expect them to be able to transfer the knowledge to others.
      They will own all that is given to them, they will not work for me at all. I will expect them to use the produce themselves to inprove house hold nutrition and sell if they have extras, They must also position their apiaries within farming premises to experience the positive impacts of pollination interventions.
      I am willing to of-take their extra produce as I know access to market might be an issue. My main gains come from the demonstration apiary that will be set up within the community, basically it will generate revenue for me from produce and research. So I think its healthy to call the 10 youths out-growers.
      The budget did not speak about the last 10%, actually I reserved that as miscellaneous expenses. I am quite afriad of the curreny fluntuations in Nigeria at the moment and the issue of acquiring land for the demonstration apiary. Intialy when I did my feasibility studies, the communty promised to give a free land for the demonstration apiary but knowing what our folks are capable of, I think it is safer to buy it.
      Thank you so much for the healthy comments

  13. Well done Johnson. Putting the theory into practice. Keep it up. This will surely create employment for people, improve agricultural yield as well as the numerous benefits from honey.

  14. This is impressive Seun. I have had opportunity to supervise Seun’s effort in training youth as Bee Farmers for Honey production and pioneering demonstration of Bees as pollinators of specific crops in Nigeria. The results have been very encouraging. There is great hope that youth involvement in Bee Keeping will not only put money in their pockets but food on their table.

    1. These comments from you sir needs no further additions. You say it all in a nut shell. Kind regards sir and thanks for the compliment.

    1. Great encouragment from you. To whom much is given, much is expected. I will not let youth in agriculture down.

    1. Thank you very much, it’s indeed amazing how much we can glean from common insects. Let’s enjoy today and preserve tomorrow. Thanks for your support

    1. Well even if all can’t keep bees, all should be concerned about what we eat and how it gets to the table, because all must eat. Thanks a million sis.

  15. Good work. This kind of passion is all we need to help each other. Bees and other pollinators are the life line to human existence. Johnson keep up this good work. I fully support your proposal for the USAID funds. The ripple effect from this training cannot be under estimated.

  16. Good work. This is what we need in the world. The ripple effect of this noble project cannot be under estimated. I fully support your application for USAID funds for this proposal.

    1. Thanks very much sir, I currently work for USAID but the application is actually for GFAR YAP grant and will be at the #GCARD3 event in South Africa.
      I am hoping to do a similar project in Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Ashanti regions If I am able to get funding. Thanks for your support, I hope I get enough support to get me through the first stage.
      Kind regards sir.

  17. Thanks to you Mr Daniel and to all of you the have supported my application. I promise I will deliver on my words and the victory will be for all youths in Agriculture. We are the once that can drive the #ZeroHunger challenge forward.

  18. Mr Seun this is a very good initiative which I know very well that at this material time in Nigeria when government want to diversify the economy and looking towards investing in agriculture you will be able to scale through all and bring glory to our nation through securing the grant which will at long run contribute to economic development of our country. I wish you all the best.

  19. Thanks Bro Segun. We do really need it so we can reverse the effects of insecticides as it has began to cripple yield in some parts of the country
    Kind regards sir

  20. Well done Johnson. I have faith in your proposal and I know that your passion and genuine interest will contribute to its success.

    1. Thanks very much ma’am. It’s a passion against all odds. I am out to prove that agriculture by youths is possible, sustainable and profitable.
      Kind regards

  21. We must all join hands to improve lives of vulnerable populations. Rural dwellers are usually disadvantaged economically among other challenges. I support your inspiring initiative and wish you great success. Regards.

    1. Thank you so much. To be vulnerable as a youth is well known to me. I am and will do all can as to help these ones

  22. Great Leader, great article! I have had the honor to meet Jonhson at FAO headquarters (Rome) during UN CFS #Y4FSN idea incubator event. This young and insparering bee-keeper impressed me a lot. I’m since then bee-inspired!

  23. This is one of those big things that start small. A well thought out concept that’s environmentally friendly, poverty eradicating, job producing, hunger mitigating, and yet, economically viable. I’d recommend this for support as it helps to increase crop yield of other farmers too. Seun, see you at the very top.

  24. I’m so proud of your laudable initiative. Keep the flag flying bro. It’s unfortunate that African society still don’t understand the importance of bee culture in our ecosystem.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. I am sure Africa particularly Nigeria will rise to the occasion not that oil money is no longer trust worthy.

  25. This is indeed a laudable project Seun, I love honey and the idea that I can help Bees produce them better and help myself to their produce is a Salivating idea. Please extend your training to Ile-Ife o. We are waiting.
    P.S: we don’t mind Online training while we wait

    1. The Temowo family is a wonderful one to me. Thanks ma for your support. Please let me know how I can come over and set up one for you after April this year.
      Kayode is already enjoying much of the training. Thanks very much ma’am

  26. This is enlightening to me. never knew bees are this important. Great one Sir. Wish you success in this project.

    1. That’s the way they are. Very important insects, that is why all religions speak much about them. From their social life to their anatomy to their work ethics. There is much to learn from them.
      Thanks for your support

    1. It’s a great offering to nature. One of the few practices that is an all round blessing. If you are in or around the FCT, We can train you and set up an apiary for you anywhere
      Thanks for your support

  27. This is fantastic, well done man. I sure will like to be a part of this laudable project. Its a great thing you are doing.

  28. It’s high we begin to look inwards as youth and as a country. Great initiative. Thanks for this.

    1. Kind regards. Agriculture for youths is trending and makes much sense. New registers are entering into agriculture just to make it acceptable I guess
      Thanks for the support

  29. That’s was pretty a long write up but worth every line never knew bees are worth more than just honey. I know better,am proud to knoe you. May the good lord reward all your efforts and bless you beyond measures. Best wishes Seun.

    1. So sorry about the bee that stung you the other day, Kayode told me. Fear not ma, it’s your first dose in Bee Venom Therapy. Thanks for your support big sis

  30. Well done Seun. Am proud of you and all your efforts. God in his infinite mercies reward you. Best wishes

  31. I think this should be one of the major projects supported and sponsored by the federal government most especially in this season of unemployment, hardship & decline in our major source of income as a nation (i.e. crude oil business). I think more funds should be provided to support productive, income generating & employment creating businesses like this.
    I’m happy you are making such positive impact like this, kudos and all the best.

    1. Thanks bro, I was on NTA on Sunday and government seems serious with agriculture, lets wait and see how things go. Youths themselves should be ready to get their hands dirty and we will pray government to formulate policies that make enabling environment for agriculture.
      Thanks for your support and hoping you get your bee stings soon. Lol

  32. Wow! Bees? Really?
    Nice one Bro. Very educative and inspiring.
    May God grant you all you need to fulfill this and more.
    Cheers

  33. Uhmmm… Nice one. More research into agriculture and its benefits will actually leave us with no doubt that agriculture is the way forward. Nice piece you have there Seun… Keep it up and God bless your efforts

    1. Thanks very much for the vote of confidence. God helping me, I will live up to expectations.
      Thanks for your support sir

  34. Wow,informative and I have learnt a lot. You are an example to learn Frm to alleviate d direct unemployment DT hits our graduating youth nt Jst in Nigeria BT African. Weldone Brother

    1. That’s what I am about bro, seeking to get youths employed via agriculture
      Thanks for your support
      Cheers bro.

  35. I can see how much this author has put his time on beekeeping and agricultural matters. ‘Beelieve’ is such a fun yet intelligent word of promoting this program. Not to mention of the solution for the biological solution for the earth, he also attempts to solve out social problem(creating women’s appropriate work) and diminish the waste(burning those bees at the roof of the houses)of the neighborhood. I sincerely enjoyed reading his article and hope everything he is planning will turn out successfully and make the better world! Go Mr. Johnson!

    1. Thanks for your support, I must confess that the experience I have accumulated working with and in developmental projects has been a great influence in the design of this project.
      Thanks once again for your support miss.

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