As small in size as they may be, bees are a step on the path to food security in Big Babanki, a village of 16,000 residents in the North West Province of Cameroon. 80% of this agricultural community relies on what it produces to survive.
The tenuous food security in Big Babanki spurred Anike Foundation and youth development nonprofit Youth Concept Forum Building Aspirants (YOCOFOBA) to join funds and invest in a four-day intensive beekeeping program for ten residents in December of 2014. This covered the cost of bee suits, smokers (devices that calm the bees), gloves, wax, and other supplies.
Led by YOCOFOBA president MBIFI Valentine MBIFI of YOCOFOBA, Peace Corps volunteer Sarah Edwards, and the village’s chief of agriculture Monica Lih, the training consisted of educational talks and on-hand work:
Day 1: introduction, basics of bees, and family nutrition
Day 2: honey processing, byproducts and marketing
Day 3 and 4: hive construction
Edwards and Mbifi went through a beekeeping manual that they had created in the form of questions and answers. Topics addressed included the reason for raising bees, what a hive needs, how to avoid getting stung, the harvesting and processing of honey, and how to go about selling the products.
The training, while focusing on beekeeping, took the opportunity to communicate knowledge on family nutrition and household budgeting, two areas directly relevant to the ultimate goal of food security, which was defined as meaning “that all people at all times have the ability to proper food in order to live a healthy life. This includes the availability, access, and utilization of this food.” Built into the program were discussions on what constitutes a balanced diet, the different types of malnourishment, and how to effectively budget money.
The training taught on modern methods of beekeeping and product marketing techniques to both beginners and current apiary owners. The new resulting apiaries have the potential to generate income not only from honey but also from byproducts for medicinal use or candles. Equipped with this knowledge, ten beekeepers headed home with the hope of a new source of income, bee products, and food contained in their newly constructed hives.