Sustainable Beekeeping to Reduce Poverty

Sustainable Beekeeping and Human Development
Friday, 11th June 2021

The Sustainable Beekeeping and Human Development (SuBeHuDe) in Tanzania, is a grassroots NGO, non-profit sharing and non partisan organisation established in 2014 by a group of young, sustainable development activists.

Our purpose is to promote achievement of sustainable human development for the vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the present and for future generations.  

The SuBeHuDe is focused on training in sustainable commercial beekeeping, practical permaculture, eco-entrepreneurship, environmental and biodiversity conservation, natural resource protection and management; and promoting access to inclusive quality education, basic healthcare, clean and safe drinking water, community capacity building and personal development to empower them with the tools to break the cycle of poverty. 

1. Practical Permaculture  

The integrations of practical permaculture began in November 2017, with the establishment of PDC programs. Three sites (10 acres in Dodoma, 24 acres in Shinyanga and 12 acres in Tabora) were acquired to establish demonstration farms, designed together with the communities using permaculture principles. The demonstration farms will serve as training-learning centres for our farmers, beekeepers, entrepreneurs, sustainability leaders.

The program is implemented by five staff and two volunteers comprising of seven trainers. The program is working with 521 families of more than 3126 households and the entire community work together in farm activities. When the participants are trained, the demo farms will give them an opportunity to carry out practical activities that build their skills to adopt permaculture practices. After training, participants start the adoption immediately thanks to the motivation from working on the smaller demonstration site. 

The field officers provide follow-ups at community level and at household level. During these, farmers are guided through their implementation process. Within three months of implementation, beneficiaries are enjoying the short term benefits of the design, such as harvesting vegetables from their home gardens for consumption and sales. These yields are improving their nutritional status and increasing their sources of income. Local communities are working together in doing the manual work that includes initial designing, digging of the swales, banana cycles, water troughs, establishment of fruits tree nurseries, demonstration sites and other communal works. These build their social ties and help establish communal farms with vegetable gardens and forest gardens. From the sale of the vegetables and fruits, the members are sharing the income, helping them to begin VSLA groups to empower them economically. 

2. Beekeeping

The SuBeHuDe’s trains new beekeepers and works with beekeeping groups encouraging them to adopt the api-permacuture approach, where beekeepers are encouraged to diversify their apiary products by integrating food forests in their apiaries to increases bee fodder plants while promoting cross-pollination on fruit trees and vines like; passions, mangoes, citrus, avocados, pawpaw, grapes, pod plants like legumes and cereals. They have access to api-permaculture trainings, apiary and bee fodder plant selections, making beekeeping equipment and tools including transitional and commercial bee hives, protective gear.

There is also access to extraction and processing equipment and packaging materials, training on bee product value, marketing and market linkages. From this, beekeepers have been able to make sales of produce like vegetables, fruit, honey and beeswax and incorporate value added products like beeswax candles and beauty products. These have increased and created perennial sources of their income.


© Mayaya Mack

3. Eco-entrepreneurship Skills Development  

Ecological enterprise is the form of entrepreneurship that considers ecological systems; that is doing entrepreneurial activities while taking ecosystems restoration in consideration. For example, honey bee product suppliers should bear in mind that in order for them to survive and their business to run smoothly, they have had to make sure those ecological systems are protected and restored to ensure the honey bees are healthy cared for. 

The SuBeHuDe’s programs train new eco-preneurs and work with entrepreneurship groups to encourage them to employ ecologically-friendly enterprise approaches such as permaculture ethics, earth care and fair share. They are taught how to integrate their businesses into the local ecosystems, increasing environmental conservation and ecosystem restoration.

They have been able to access waste management and recycling enterprises, renewable and affordable energy trainings and potential partners to support them technically and financially to upscale eco-business, eco-construction, agro-ecology and ecovillage programs. This will reduce plastic and wooden material pollution, helping to reduce impact on climate change.

4. Renewable Energy - Solar Cooking Science  

Solar Cooking Science Project (SCSP) is aimed at promoting solar cookers and providing vocational skills and know-how to communities that the sun can cook foods and boil liquid/water for their families in Tabora. This exciting training programme has had very notable solar scientists and trainers (Mayaya S.K. & Camily W. R.) to tackle the issues of income poverty, unemployment, deforestation, eyes and respiratory diseases, environmental pollution and ozone layer depletion due to increased Green House Gas (GHG) emission, mainly carbon dioxide through economic empowerment, promotion of self-employment by making solar cookers, environmental protection, forest restoration and carbon sequestration, safe and clean energy for the prosperous people and biodiversities. 

These trainings are aimed at youths and women in particular because they are mostly found in the kitchen. The project trained 36 participants on how to use a solar cooker for food, pasteurizing drinking water and milk. 

A solar cooker allows people to spend time gardening, tailoring, studying or doing carpentry while the food is cooking. It saves money: money to buy charcoals can now pay for health services, nutritionally-balanced foods and other uses. The solar cooker also promotes healthy community because there is no more smoke.


Women learning how to build a solar cooker © Mayaya Mack


A demonstration of the solar cooker © Mayaya Mack

5. Planting for the Planet and Pollinators

Planting for the Planet and Pollinators is a tree planting program for kids and youngsters aimed at planting bee fodder plants in ASALs (Arid, and Semi-Arid Landscapes) regions to improve nature and increase good pollinators, the honey bees in particular. Tree nurseries have been established and will be expanded at the demonstration farms on our three sites, which will contain indigenous seedlings with bee fodder plants; fruits, firewood and timber, edible, spice and herbal plants, nitrogenous plant species. The organization members are planting trees in their food forests, distributing them to the neighboring education institutions, religious organizations, water catchment areas and planting some along roads and on public lands. The organization members and beneficiaries will also be selling the trees to individuals inspired to setup and upscale food forest systems on their own farms.

Rainwater harvesting structures are needed to improve soil water conservation and reduce erosion. All the communities that will be indirect beneficiaries will have an opportunity to replicate the bee pollination approaches on their own farms. The program will provide farms consultation services, organize farmer field days, api-permaculture and cco-preneurship fairs where the program participants are able to showcase their new skills. This will influence the larger ASAL communities to adopt api-permaculture practices. This also will inform climate change policy and the climate change potential funding agencies for ASAL regions in Tanzania. 

At SuBeHuDe, we are initially planning to build Sustainable Human Development Training Centres (SHDTCs) on our sites starting on 24 acres land in Shinyanga to ensure the restored landscapes are sustainably managed for demonstration and professionak purposes.

Sustainable Beekeeping and Human Development is one of the 20 finalists in the 2020 Permaculture Magazine Prize:

Useful links 

Finalists for the 2020 Permaculture Magazine Prize announced

Goodbye poverty: regenerative agriculture and livelihoods