Beekeeping for Development: Raising Rural Incomes in Zambia

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Beekeeping for Development: Raising Rural Incomes in Zambia
Morgan, Stephen
Drummond, Evan ( Mentor )
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Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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Beekeeping for Development: Raising Rural Incomes in Zambia

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida


Organic agriculture has become a key instrument in
economic development programs to accomplish the dual
objectives of raising rural incomes and conserving valuable
environmental resources (Reardon & Vosti, 1995). Rapid
growth in global demand for organic products has provided
a strong economic incentive for small-scale agricultural
operations to expand into this niche market (Bacon, 2005).
The Kafakumba Development Center, located near Ndola,
Zambia, is utilizing an organic and sustainable honey
operation to supplement the incomes of local subsistence
farmers (Hopkins, Neven, & Reardon, 2005). Integral to
this project is a modified Kenyan beehive designed to be
mounted in trees and provide an incentive to conserve
threatened Zambian timber resources. The honey produced
through this partnership capitalizes on the Kafakumba
Development Center's capacity to provide a local
packaging system and harvesting practices that meet
European Union organic label standards. This program has
been developed by the Kafakumba Development Center
with support from the Government of the Republic of
Zambia (GRZ) and matching grant funding from the
German foreign assistance program.
An interview with Kafakumba Director John Enright
(personal communication, November 10, 2008) has
revealed that the organic honey partnership has
successfully provided 80 women farmers with 5 beehives
each. Each participant receives instruction and support
from the training center as well as a guaranteed price of
$0.50 USD per pound of honey produced. Partners in the
program have the option to sell their honey at the agreed
price or to sell their honey through local channels.
According to Enright, the income generated for each
family has thus far rivaled the average earnings of a
Zambian grade school teacher (personal communication,
November 10, 2008). This high level of success has led to
planned expansion of another seven hundred hives over the
next several harvest seasons. No research has been done
to determine the economic impacts this program has had on
raising rural incomes for program participants.
This investigation will center on conducting an empirical
case study of the organic honey program at the Kafakumba
Development Center to assess its impact on all participants
in the partnership. The objectives of this study are to
further understand the true economic impacts the
partnership has had on individual farmers, the practices to
ensure the honey meets organic standards, and the costs
incurred by the partnership to export the packaged honey.

The investigation will also determine how the production
of organic honey has impacted the incomes of small-scale
farmers. The final goal of this investigation is to determine
what practices, if any, contribute to the success of the
organic honey program and how these practices could be
applicable to similar development projects elsewhere.


The investigation was carried out on-site at the
Kafakumba Development Center, where all apiaries are
constructed and honey is processed. This investigation will
utilize a series of semi-structured interviews that took place
during the period May 26, 2009 through June 15, 2009.
The first interviews were conducted with directors and staff
of the Kafakumba Development Center. These interview
sessions focused on questions regarding the cost structure
of the partnership, the design of the apiary program, and
the benefits that the program is perceived to provide to all
participants. These interviews were supplemented by direct
observation of the partnership operations and an analysis of
financial materials that the Kafakumba Development
Center provided related to the honey processing operation.
The second series of semi-structured interviews were
conducted in the field with small-scale producers who are
participating in the honey partnership. Utilizing the
assistance of an interpreter from the Kafakumba
Development Center, this investigation included a random
sample of 15 small farmers who were engaged in the
program for over 1 year and over the age of 18. Questions
focused primarily on issues of why farmers chose to
become involved with the program, how the production of
organic honey has impacted their incomes and quality of
life, and, finally, what type of relationship the individual
producers have with the Kafakumba Development Center.
Supplementing field interviews were tours of farmer's
apiary holdings, allowing for direct observation of local
harvesting practices and support mechanisms provided to
individual producers.


Cost Structure of Cooperative. The Kafakumba
Development Center operates under a cost structure that
shares the program burden equally between the cooperative
and the major donor, the German government. The cost to
produce an apiary is $50 USD: $25 for resources such as
lumber, wax moldings, and other building materials and
$25 for labor to assemble the apiaries. Funding for all

University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 12, Issue 1 | Fall 2010

Stephen Morgan


materials is taken from the German aid grant of $50,000
USD, with a second grant pending. The cooperative
provides the labor resources for assembly and
transportation through contracts with a community
woodshop that serves other development efforts in the
Apart from the costs of producing and distributing
apiaries, the cooperative is also responsible for purchasing
honey from producers, processing the honey, and
marketing the final product. During the period of the
investigation, honey was being purchased from producers
at a price of $1 USD per pound. Additional processing cost
the cooperative a further $1 per pound of honey. This
processing included separating the honey from the honey
comb, straining the raw honey to remove any impurities,
bottling, and labeling. No additives or preservatives are
used in the processing of the raw honey to ensure that the
final product can be sold under an organic label. Another
innovation was the use of recycled bottles to keep
processing costs low. The processed honey was then sold
on the market at a final price of $3 per pound.
The final sale price of $3 per pound of honey produced
is divided equally among participants. The average annual
production of current participating farmers totals 110
pounds of honey, all of which is bought by the cooperative.
From this degree of production, the farmer receives $110
dollars, or one-third of the final sales price. The
cooperative receives $220 dollars, of which $110 is used to
cover the processing costs, and the remaining $110 is
reinvested in the development of the program. These
reinvestments are currently being made in expanding the
number of participants in the program, the purchase of
more harvesting equipment and protective gear, and the
development of new apiary designs.

Findings among Directors. Through interviews with
the cooperative managers and German field officers, the
main driver behind the honey operation was revealed to be
the provision of a supplemental source of income to
women in rural communities. Maintaining the role of
women as subsistence farmers is important for rural food
production, and the introduction of apiaries provides a new
revenue stream that requires a very small time commitment
so as not to detract from other revenue-earning operations.
Participants are recruited through organized community
meetings where German aid officers and cooperative
employees present the program to groups of 20-30
subsistence farmers and take volunteers. These volunteers
are provided with five apiaries each and receive training,
support, and equipment from the aid officers and
cooperative to begin production. At the time of interviews,
community interest in this program has outpaced apiary
construction, and there are 80 producers who have already
been trained and are waiting to receive apiaries.
One of the main problems identified by cooperative
leaders was the issue of noncompliance in implementing

proper maintenance and harvesting techniques by the
program participants. Hive management practices and
techniques taught by German field officers were ignored by
the first group of participants. Primary issues were raiding
hives before the harvest, improperly transferring colonies
of honey bees into new apiaries, and removing lumber
from the apiaries for other household uses. These issues
contributed to colony degeneration and low yields. In
response, the cooperative has implemented two policies
that have eradicated noncompliance issues and increased
the yields from existing apiaries. First, in each participating
membership group, the cooperative now employs one local
producer to serve as the liaison between a community
group and the cooperative management. The community
leader must visit each producer on a weekly basis, ensuring
that the apiary area is kept clean, the hives are populated,
and that apiaries have not been disturbed. Verbal reports to
cooperative directors are delivered each week. A second
measure to promote best management practices has been
the rationing of protective equipment needed to safely open
the hive. Initially, each producer was provided with
protective clothing and a smoker, which contributed to
raiding activities. The cooperative now restricts protective
equipment to the community leaders, so that their presence
is required to help facilitate proper harvesting and
management techniques.
Another important finding among the cooperative
directors was that the local demand for honey has been so
large that there was no need to engage in exports to the
European Union as initially predicted. This large demand
has been fueled primarily by two major factors: a high
prevalence of HIV/AIDS among the Zambian population,
for which honey is used as a traditional remedy, and the
high price of sugar. Current estimates predict that over
15% of adult Zambians are infected with HIV, with this
number expected to trend higher in the future (CIA, 2009).
Honey consumption was noted as a traditional remedy for
HIV infections in many Zambian communities, and much
of the local demand for the cooperative's honey has been
from individuals who use honey for medicinal purposes. In
the rural Zambian diet, sugar is considered to be a staple
good and demands a price approximately 30% higher than
the honey being produced through the cooperative. As
honey production has increased, so has its use among local
consumers as a household cooking ingredient and
sweetener. As economic theory predicts, consumers have
been willing to substitute the relatively inexpensive honey
for the relatively expensive sugar in household
consumption. This substitution saves consumers money
and increases local demand for the cooperative's honey.

Findings among Participants. Among the participants
in the honey cooperative program, the main reason for
volunteering in community meetings was to find a means
of increasing the family income. The average annual
income among the participants of this study was

University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 12, Issue 1 | Fall 2010


approximately $500, and each of the participants reported
incomes of greater than $100 for the previous harvest
cycle. This resulted in an increase in annual incomes of
participating farmers of 20% due to the sale of honey to the
Kafakumba Development Center. Participants interviewed
unanimously agreed that this money made a huge
improvement in their lives and contributed to increased
food purchases in local markets, the expansion of other
farming activities through the purchase of more seeds and
fertilizer, and the payment of school fees for their children.
Every family interviewed used the revenue from honey
production to send at least one of their children to a village
school. In addition, participants reported a reduced reliance
on the sale of charcoal for income due to the high
profitability of honey production. Another common
observation among the participants in the program was a
significant shift in the position of females within the
household. All participants in the honey cooperative are
women, and payments for raw honey are only made to
female producers and not to male relatives. As a result of
this payment practice, women are for the first time earning
a larger share of the household income than men.
The participants interviewed were positive about their
relationship with the cooperative. All participants in this
study reported being satisfied with the price they were
receiving for their honey, receiving excellent support and
training from the Kafakumba Development Center, and
feeling that the labor burden of the apiaries was minimal.
The average time spent maintaining 5 apiaries among the
individuals interviewed were 1-2 hours per week during the
non-harvest season and 10 hours per week during the
harvest. This time burden was easily managed and did not
interfere with other household subsistence farming
activities. The most common complaint among the
program participants was a lack of protective clothing and


Bacon, C. (2005). Confronting the coffee crisis: Can fair trade, organic, and
specialty coffees reduce small-scale farmer vulnerability in Northern
Nicaragua? World Development, 33, 497-511.
Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook. (2009). Zambia [Data file].
Retrieved from publications/the-world-
factbook/geos /za.html

equipment for working with the hives. Producers felt that
they would be more comfortable working around the hives
with protective equipment of their own, and the lack of
equipment is a major deterrent to their opening the hive. As
previously stated, the shortage of equipment was instituted
by the cooperative to prevent raiding and tampering with
the hives outside of harvest.


In the case of the Zambian honey project hosted by the
Kafakumba Development Center and German foreign aid
program, the production of organic honey resulted in large
improvements in rural incomes. Honey represented a high
value niche market that had an unexpected demand among
local consumers. In addition to raising incomes, honey
production managed to empower women in local
communities through the payment process and decrease
environmental degradation by reducing the local reliance
on charcoal production. A unique aspect of this project is
the backwards integration of apiary production into local
woodshops, which increases community involvement and
creates beneficial spillovers into groups other than rural
women. The employment of community leaders to monitor
participant compliance and progress also contributed to
better management practices and higher yields among
program participants by increasing the degree of
community ownership of the project and accountability.
Creating vertical linkages and employing local individuals
to engage in project monitoring techniques were practices
that have worked well in Zambia and can be widely applied
to other development projects in the region as they increase
community ownership of development efforts and offer
tangible financial benefits to participants.

Hopkins, R., Neven, D., & Reardon, T. (2005). Case studies of farmer
organizations linking to dynamic markets in Southern Africa. Partnerships for
food industry development. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from the Partnerships
for Food Industry Development Web site:
Reardon, T., & Vosti, S. (1995). Links between rural poverty and the
environment in developing countries: Asset categories and investment
poverty. World Development, 23, 1495-1506.

University of Florida I Journal of Undergraduate Research I Volume 12, Issue 1 | Fall 2010