It is a sad fact that allot of money spent on beekeeping development in Africa is wasted. Well meaning donors and aid agencies frequently take the wrong approach to beekeeping development with a focus on introducing ‘modern’ hives and equipment as opposed to building skills and knowledge in beekeeping. A few years later it is not uncommon to find abandoned hives and disillusioned farmers. Unfortunatly there can be a lack of learning between projects and mistakes simply get repeated. This is not a situation confined to beekeeping development and it is worth watching the video below on water projects in Malawi. David Damberger in his excellent presentation talks of the misdirected focus on hardware (e.g. in the case of beekeeping introducing hives and equipment) and the lack of software development (skills and knowledge). In my opinion a very similar situation pertains to beekeeping development in Africa as David highlights on water development. I have also witnessed the problem in the beekeeping sector of repeating mistakes over and over again. Please watch David’s presentation below:
To quote a recent publication on beekeeping:
“large beekeeping projects with high capital input seem doomed to non-sustainability and failure. This has happened in far too many beekeeping projects where a well- meaning donor has allocated a significant budget to a project, much of which is inevitably spent on equipment. This leads to equipment being introduced that is neither necessary nor appropriate, and to the machinery (for hive making) that becomes obsolete as soon as a spare part is needed. Training is often provided that is irrelevant to people’s available resources, and inappropriate for the bees being utilised. The many continuing examples of beekeeping project failure……. raise questions about how to make beekeeping projects more successful.”
Reference: Bradbear, N. (2011). Manual of Apiculture – A Valuable and Feasible Rural Craft (p. 62). Cairo: FAO. page 45.
Therefore money invested in getting it right from the start through proper planning, project design, training etc is money well spent and will more than likely help to achieve a sustainable and sucessful intervention.
1. Beekeeping assessments
This would involve assessing the potential of a particular area or region for a beekeeping intervention. There are many aspects to consider. For example what is the natural potential of an area for beekeeping such as the bees and floral resources? What are the potential yields of honey and other bee products? What are the beekeeping traditions, skill levels and beekeeping indigenous knowledge? Who are the key beekeeping stakeholders (e.g. beekeeping organisations, extension agencies, research agencies etc) and what are their roles? What is the policy environment for beekeeping? Were there any previous beekeeping interventions? What can we learn from past interventions? What are the local and export market opportunities? It is useful also to conduct market chain analysis on bee products. The output of the assessment would be a detailed report based on the assignment terms of reference.
2. Development of funding proposals.
Following on from the assessment I can design an appropriate and sustainable beekeeping project with the aim of building on existing skills and knowledge and designed to exploit market opportunities for bee products. I have experience of designing beekeeping interventions for a variety of NGOs and donors including large aid agencies such as the European Union and USAID etc. I am very familiar with project/programme cycle management, logical frameworks and budgeting.
I have experience and expertise in conducting project and programme evaluations on beekeeping and agriculture development programmes.
4. On-going support and Training
I am an experienced trainer and have been involved in planning and delivering beekeeping training programmes for farmers for many years. I can also provide ongoing support and mentoring to beekeeping programmes in developing countries providing guidance and direction as needed. I also have experience in developing appropriate training materials for beekeepers.
5. Business Development
Beekeeping development is not just of interest to development agencies. Businesses have a vital role to play. Honey and other bee products are high value natural products and in increasing demand worldwide. Small scale farmers can and do supply private enterprise with bee products. I can provide advice on how to establish a profitable honey business and support the development of detailed business plans.
I am a researcher qualified to PhD level and can design and conduct research on beekeeping and other agricultural enterprises.
- PhD – thesis titled: ‘An Analysis of Livelihood Improvement and Smallholder Beekeeping in Kenya’.
- MSc in Entrepreneurship, University of Stirling, Scotland, 2004.
- MSc in Environmental Resources Management, University College Dublin, 1993.
- Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree, University College Dublin, 1990.
- ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping in Kenya’ available for free download from this site – click here
My own experience and expertise is focused on the challenges of African beekeeping and making beekeeping work in a sustainable way for poor smallholder farmers. I have worked on African beekeeping development for the past 15 years and am former Head of Beekeeping with Baraka Agricultural College in Molo, Kenya where I managed a beekeeping development programme. I also worked as ‘Beekeeping Conservation Officer’ with the KIFCON forest coservation project in Mau and Kakamega forests, Kenya. For a number of years I provided training and support to beekeepers in Somalia (EU funded) and Southern Sudan (with USAID support). I also conducted beekeeping project evaulations and training for a variety of aid organisations and private businesses in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Darfur (Sudan). I am also a beekeeper and manage my own apiary of African bees in Nakuru, Kenya (about 170Kms west of the capital city Nairobi).
Please don’t hesitate to contact me (my email address is below) about how I can be of assistance with your beekeeping project. If you just want me to coment on your beekeeping proposal or report or bounce any ideas off of me, I would be happy to do that at any time.
Tom Carroll, PhD, October 2012.
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