17 September 2020

Beekeeping for cocoa farmers: improving knowledge and boosting income

Together with the ABOCFA cocoa cooperative and Tony’s Chocolonely’s, the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) organised a two-day training course on beekeeping with farmers in Ghana. The training aimed to increase farmers’ financial resilience through knowledge of beekeeping and its potential.

“If you haven’t visited another’s farm, you think you are the only farmer,” said Samuel Obuo, a cocoa farmer from Kokoano, after a training on beekeeping led by the ABOCFA Cooperative, with the support of the International Cocoa Initiative and Tony’s Chocolonely. “The beekeeping training has made me realize I have not started exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities of organic cocoa farming.”

Alongside the ABOCFA cocoa cooperative and Tony’s Chocolonely, ICI led a training session with farmers, many of them women, who were identified as having children involved in child labour through the Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS). The two-day session was designed to provide cocoa farmers with the ABOCFA cooperative an alternative source income.

Strengthening cocoa households

Research from ICI has shown that negative shocks to farmer income can result in more child labour. Strengthening households’ ability to support their children and increase their resilience to the impacts of unpredictable events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, is thus vital.

Beekeeping is one route by which farmers can increase and diversify their income. With beehives, the right training and equipment farmers will be able to produce honey and other profitable products to sell at local markets.

“Most of us are aware that beekeeping can be profitable since pure honey is not common in our markets,” said Janet Adamkie, one of the farmers, after the training. She explains that a lack of know-how limited the ability of farmers in her community to use bees as a source of income.“Today, I am confident to work with a colony of honeybees for the first time.”

Samuel Obuo plans to take full advantage of his bees, not only financially, but to improve his other crops as well: “As I observe good farming practices, I will employ bees to pollinate the flowers on my trees. This implies that my flowers will not drop as usual and I will have a lot of fruit at harvest.”

Remediating child labour

The beekeeping training took place in the framework of a long-term collaboration between ABOCFA, ICI and Tony’s Chocolonely, aimed at eliminating child labour through the CLMRS. Remediation actions of this kind are targeted at farming households with children identified as in child labour or deemed at risk. Additional actions include awareness raising, educational support, registration to Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme, and assistance through other income-generating activities.

Farmers who participated in the training will, in time, be able to earn income from their bees, enabling them to support their children’s upbringing and education, and weather future income shocks.

“This beekeeping activity is just one of a range of remediation activities we undertake with farmers as part of the CLMRS,” explained Frank Asuamah, CLMRS Project Manager at ICI. “But it is an important one as it can provide financial benefits to farmers, improving resilience and reducing reliance on cocoa. Follow-up visits with the farmers are planned and the scale-up of the beekeeping project is currently being explored to assist even more farmers to take up the practice.”

”With the potential for large economic benefits from beekeeping and strong enthusiasm demonstrated by the cooperative, honey production could become their second certified organic commodity to cocoa,” Asuamah continued. “This would further boost the income of members and subsequently help eliminate the worst forms of child labour. It will also lead to great improvement in the education of their children by ensuring parents can send them to school.”

Learn more about the CLMRS.

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