By PETER MALASHA
SIX hundred bee hives have been fixed in Mkushi North Swaka forest to promote beekeeping as an alternative income generating venture.
Mkushi North Swaka Trust Limited chief executive officer, Andrew Hunter, said the project was being promoted to stop deforestation and also give skills and technical know-how to the local people.
Mr Hunter said so far nine groups living along the North Swaka forestry reserve, now turned into a trust, had been trained in bee-farming up to harvesting in both chief Chitina’s and Shaibila’s chiefdoms.
He said in an interview that about 600 beehives had been distributed to foundation members in both chiefdoms to ensure that the project yielded positive results.
He said the concept behind was to teach the people other farming practices that would make them refrain from activities such as charcoal burning and ultimately reduce deforestation
Mr. Hunter said the organisation was creating a link between financial rewards and the trees because in order to produce honey they need to have access to trees.
“We are trying to create this link that people can realise that the more they look after trees, the more the honey the bees will produce. And at the end of the day they can have more honey to sell and generate an income,” he said.
In separate interview, Mkushi North Swaka trust project manager, Grege Stone, said the target was to distribute more than 600 beehives to bee farmers to complete phase one of bee project.
“At the moment we are busy training up people that will become mentors in the bee project so they will be there to give out back-up to each community member,” he said.
By PETER MALASHA