OUR RECENT WORK
After six years of work and three rounds of training workshops, the Yalunka people of Sierra Leone are preparing their first batch of honey for export.
Since 2009 Cash-Honey has worked with 85 Yalunka men and women in 15 villages within Sinkunia Chiefdom, transforming their farming and honey hunting skills into a more sustainable, safe and lucrative beekeeping practice. The skills and knowledge have now spread through all three Yalunka Chiefdoms (Falaba, Musaia and Sinkunia) in northern Sierra Leone. With the new market connection and support of Mel-O Honey, the beekeepers of Koinadugu (including and beyond the three Yalunka Chiefdoms) are finally able to sell their raw honey at a fair price.
Improved local beekeeping practices (including the local "bly" hive system, honey harvesting and processing skills) are now being taught in workshops all over Sierra Leone, including Kenema and Tambakka with the help of Mel-O Africa.
Through a new initiative called "Bees for Schools", a collaboration with eight pilot schools (around Kenema in the south and Sinkunia in the north), we are working to develop beekeeping curriculum and hands-on programs within secondary schools in Sierra Leone.
Although we have a long way to go we are steadily moving towards the original goal of Cash-Honey: alleviating poverty and protecting the unique forests in Sierra Leone.
Cash-Honey, originally a project of Globalhood, was concieved in 2007 by Torjia Karimu of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and James Burke of Brooklyn, New York. Our project aims to enhance living conditions and strengthen rural livelihoods in northern Sierra Leone through sustainable apiculture and improved farming practices.
Farmers in northern Sierra Leone have been harvesting honey for hundreds of years. By supplementing traditional honey "hunting" methods with sustainable apiculture, Cash-Honey hopes to stimulate economic growth within the target communities and alleviate stress on local biodiversity and habitat.
The rural communities of the Dembelia-Sinkunia and Tambakka Chiefdoms of Sierra Leone receive an infinitesimal fraction of the assistance provided to Sierra Leone from outside donor sources, rendering this region one of the most destitute areas in what the United Nations GNP Index identifies as one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.
The border regions Dembelia-Sinkunia and Tambakka Chiefdoms share with Guinea and adjacent Chiefdoms in northern Sierra Leone represent critical habitat for chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) and other wildlife supported by remnant Guinean forest systems. Today, both wildlife and unprotected forest areas are vulnerable to the ubiquitous "slash & burn" agriculture. Cash-Honey will establish a beekeeping program that serves as a foundation for the development of further localized conservation projects and a vehicle by which other issues relevant to habitat protection; including crop and livestock production, timber harvesting, hunting, and education, can be effectively addressed.
In 2013, Cash-Honey was used as a platform for the launch of Mel-O Africa in Sierra Leone. Mel-O Africa no provides a "Fair Trade" link for the beekeepers of Sierra Leone.
WHAT WE DO
Typically, rural development-focused NGOs address beekeeping only as a secondary activity. This often results in under-funded projects that, in the end, offer very little discernible impact. Budgets are often weighted heavily toward the initial training programs without sufficiently addressing monitoring, follow-up surveys, cooperative building, market development strategies, or "up-front" incentives to motivate the trainees to establish successful apiary models. Incentives for the continuance of community involvement when biodiversity/conservation projects phase out depends heavily on establishing a strategy that enables the system to function free of external inputs within the term of the project. The project must have practical application in regards to the local economy and social dynamics.
Cash-Honey aims to introduce and maintain small-scall beekeeping programs in villages throughout northern Sierra Leone. By building capacity for collaboration and interest in cooperatives and community forest-management groups we hope to establish an effective, sustainable program independent of external outputs after the initial year. We will also explore market access, both within Sierra Leone as well as abroad, in order to promote higher grade honey and wax products.
Cash-Honey strives to support a blossoming honey industry, providing an economic boost for communities while protecting the local ecology of northern Sierra Leone.
Apiculture or beekeeping is the harvesting of honey bee colonies by humans. The practice of collecting honey from wild bee colonies dates back thousands of years.
Sustainable beekeeping offers great potential for development and contributes to poverty reduction. Beekeeping requires very little land and is therefore ideal for small-scale, resource poor farmers. Bees also enhance the surrounding ecosystem and increase crop yields through pollination. Apiculture also provides incentives for people to protect their local forests. Beekeepers can become important partners in forest conservation and promoting sustainable agriculture through a greater understanding of the role of the
bees in nature.
Valuable secondary products of apiculture, including beeswax, propolis, and pollen, are also almost invariably discarded during traditional honey hunting or harvesting.
Honey is very nutritious too.