Lesotho is a recipient and participant in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) Nature-based Women-led Innovation Programme falling under the Strategic Initiative on Inclusion. The focus of the project is on building the capacity of women in beekeeping and removing the barriers from upscaling beekeeping in Lesotho. Thus, a hive production and beekeeping training was conducted for beekeepers from Botha Bothe, Maseru, Mafeteng, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek, districts selected as beekeeping hotspots. The focus of the training was on top bar hive making, hive management, disease/pest management and business management training that were conducted
During the Rapid Capacity Needs Assessment, findings were made. These include the fact that most beekeepers have become hive keepers, as 70% of their hives were not colonised due to lack of bee management technical skills and technological inadequacies among local communities. There is also limited requisite technical capacity in the Ministry of Forestry, Range and Soil Conservation (MFRSC) resulting in inadequacies in the provision of extension services to beekeepers. Beekeepers also could not afford requisite equipment and materials for their business. Furthermore, there is weak networking and association among beekeepers, and skewed production and market access particularly pertaining to quantity and quality of the produce. Low participation of women and youth in beekeeping is another identifiable issue. In cases where beekeeping is going well, unfortunately uncontrolled fires would wreak havoc in apiaries.
The training resulted in multiple milestones. A WhatsApp group for all the participants was created, thus enabling networking and support between beekeepers. Another achievement was that more than 200 Top Bar hives and trap boxes were produced with each participant going away with between 2 and 4 hives and a trap box. Within a week of the workshop being concluded, at least ten hives had been colonised and after 18 weeks a few were ready for harvesting. This included the demo hive at the Technologies for Economic Development (TED) where the hive making, and management training was held. Participating in the training were 36 women and a few field officers from MFRSC. Therefore, more women have been capacitated and encouraged to become knowledgeable beekeepers. “With help from TED, UNDP GEF SGP, we have been exposed to new beekeeping technologies and this has had a positive impact on our produce. In addition, we have been capacitated on how to make our own top bar hives, which helps with limiting our expenditure, and has helped more Basotho to become beekeepers.” Mrs. Nyakallo Khau from Basotho Beekeeping Clinic.
The disseminated top bars will provide an opportunity to test drive the technology to enable the country to determine the most appropriate method for beekeeping in Lesotho and thus inform the formulation of a beekeeping policy. Moreover, citizens of Lesotho can have decent work which results in individual and national economic growth; thus, satisfying Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth. These strides taken have also opened opportunities for women to start their own businesses and to thrive as beekeepers in Lesotho. Certainly, the ripple effects from this success story will effect change in many neighbouring communities. This is a sustainable initiative which will live on for generations to come.