Working to improve the sustainability and viability of beekeeping as a livelihood amongst rural communities in the Anosy region.
In rural Anosy, the majority of the population depend on farming for income and survival. In the harsh and unpredictable climate, droughts are common leading to failed harvests or low yields. Compounded by a rapidly expanding population, these traditional livelihood activities are increasingly unable to provide sufficient and stable incomes for rural families.
With limited alternatives, communities are forced to use natural resources around them, leading to overexploitation of forest and marine resources, habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity. Madagascar’s honeybee, Apis mellifera unicolour, is one of the country’s 150,000 endemic species that is at risk from habitat loss. Beekeeping not only creates a valuable income stream which reduces pressure on natural resources, it also actively supports biodiversity in a country where 75% of flora and fauna is dependent on insect pollination for survival. The destructive varroa mite, a parasite that has wiped out 50% of hives in Europe, was detected in Anosy in February 2016, making the health and resilience of hives more of a priority than ever.
SEED Madagascar is building on a successful pilot project to increase local capacity in beekeeping. Using internationally-recognised techniques, Project Renitantely is equipping beekeepers with the skills and resources to apply modern beekeeping practices, leading to increased yields, healthier colonies and strengthened disease prevention. As an activity that is neither time intensive nor labour intensive, beekeeping can complement existing livelihood activities enabling vulnerable households to supplement their income while crucially contributing to the pollination of the surrounding crops and littoral rainforest.
Initially focussing on a small group of motivated beekeepers in each community, SEED Madagascar has instilled a model that enables these skills to be shared within the communities and between beekeepers themselves, amplifying the project’s impact and sustaining it long-term. The project is also promoting gender equality through running context-sensitive gender workshops, and securing 50% female representation among primary beekeepers. Close collaboration with DIREL (Direction Inter-Régionale de l'Élevage), regional NGOs and local stakeholders will contribute to delivering key messages, gathering crucial data on the spread of disease and sharing learnings on varroa treatments and hive health. Moreover, the project is working to establish secure routes to market and improve the honey value chain through improved beekeeping practices leading to higher honey yields and enhanced product quality.
In light of the detection of the varroa mite in Anosy, disease and pest management skills are now crucial to the survival of both wild bee colonies and beekeeping in the region. Training is therefore being delivered on all aspects of pest management, ensuring that beekeepers can prevent, identify and treat varroa. Techniques shared with beneficiaries are be tailored to be applicable in the resource deficient environment of Anosy, requiring only locally available and locally sourced materials. SEED Madagascar will also collaborate with other organisations in the area to ensure that the response to varroa is coordinated and efficient.
Nando & Elsa Peretti Foundation, WF Southall, Open Gate Trust and private donors.