BEEKEEPING has been recognised as an enterprise that can provide employment, income and economic security for farmers in rural areas with little startup investments.
Naturally, bees usually look after themselves, with little need for tendering and they provide a number of products such as honey, wax, pollen, royal jelly, among others, which are well known in many local markets.
Even though it is a lucrative trade with the use of simple management techniques, prospective bee keepers need to consider local culture and economy for it to be successful, and as an enterprise that fits in very well with small scale farmers’ livelihoods.
It offers a unique opportunity for increasing incomes of large numbers of smallholders and landless farmers.
Problem in Brong-Ahafo Region
With the positive trends in beekeeping, it is easy for one to assume that beekeeping is a possible panacea for solving the financial woes of farmers.
Unfortunately, nothing has been done in the area of establishing the financial profitability of this seemingly lucrative business.
Bush fires have become very rampant and excessive in the Techiman, Kintampo South, Atebubu, Sene, Wenchi and Tain districts/municipalities in Brong Ahafo, now Bono, Bono East and Ahafo regions.
The annual bush burning "rituals” have become a source of worry to beekeepers since they contribute to the extinction of bee species, low productivity, low quality of honey, low incomes, low living standards of bee farmers and low tax returns.
Bye laws meant to control the fires are purportedly not enforced, and this issue requires urgent attention for redress.
Bushfires have thus become a serious threat to beekeeping as in the Savanna Zone, vegetation is always burnt completely every year during the five-month dry periods between - November and March.
Bush fires also destroy all plants, including melliferous trees and consequently, bees are unable to find enough nectar or pollen.
It is as a result of these challenges in the bee-keeping industry that the Centre for Posterity Interest Organisation (COPIO), a non-governmental organisation and service providers, and the Techiman Unity Bee keepers Association (UBA), acquired support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund to undertake advocacy project to enhance the bee keeping business.
The seven-month project, titled “Restoring hopes in the apiculture business by reducing bush burning in the Brong-Ahafo Region” aims at helping to identify and address key bottlenecks impeding and affecting the economic activities of bee keepers in the region.
Recommendation and way forward
At a meeting of members of UBA in Techiman to deliberate on how to sustain and improve on the bee-keeping industry, Dr John Yaw Akparep, a lecturer at the University of Development Studies and a researcher, called for re-introduction of anti-bushfire sub committees at the various Municipal and District Assemblies in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
According to him the formation of such committees was recommended by PNDC law 229 of 1990 to work out realistic modalities for fighting bushfires.
Dr Akparep underscored the need for municipal and district assemblies to also enact comprehensive and culture-friendly anti-bushfire bye-laws that would deter prospective fire starters.
“There should be practical policy actions to prevent and control bushfires and to do this effectively, District Assemblies, communities, chiefs and all major stakeholders must be involved in issues pertaining to bushfire management”, he said.
For his part, the Executive Director of COPIO, Mr Mustapha Maison Yeboah, called on law enforcement agencies to intensify patrols in bushfire-prone communities and facilitate speedy prosecution of fire setters.
He called for the introduction of the Community Resources Management Areas (CREMA) concept as a new way of dealing with negative environmental practices such as bushfires in order to conserve the environment and its resources, particularly vegetation for apiculture development.
Mr Yeboah also called for sensitisation programmes to be organised for the people to help them understand the effects of bushfires on agricultural production, especially apiculture business, and to consider the fight against the threat of bushfires as a collective responsibility.