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.
Haven 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.
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