Do You Have The Courage To Fight Deforestation With An Army Of Bees?

Deforestation threatens the world’s people and environment on every level. On a global scale, it is responsible for up to 20% of greenhouse gases — more than all the cars, trucks, planes, boats and trains in the world combined (Greenpeace). Deforestation also threatens biodiversity, global and local economies and health, as well as water and geological resources. In Tanzania, deforestation and the resulting environmental costs are extraordinarily high. The country’s rapid deforestation, with an annual rate of 1.1%, surges forward at more than double the global average of 0.5% (National Environmental Management Council). Tanganyika Apicultural, a social enterprise in Tanzania, offers an unassuming but remarkable solution: bees.

Beekeeping is an unsung hero of sustainable development. In an economy focused on timber and charcoal production, the lucrative beekeeping business not only provides a strong alternative to deforestation activities, but also supports biodiversity and improves crop yields through pollination. Tanganyika Apicultural provides rural Tanzanian beekeepers access to microcredit, training, and more profitable markets to sell their beeswax goods. The organization was founded in 2014 by Olujimi Akindele, an international lawyer supportive of market-driven approaches to conservation and economic development, and Philemon Kiemi, a Tanzanian beekeeper and entrepreneur. Tanganyika Apicultural strives to accelerate the economic and environmental potential of beekeeping by eliminating the current financial and social obstacles that keep Tanzania’s 2 million beekeepers from modern technology and practices.

As a female-led cooperative, Tanganyika Apicultural promotes women’s economic empowerment by providing a less labor-intensive, more flexible source of income for rural women. Beekeeping raises agricultural yields by up to 300% and is a boon for beekeepers and farmers alike. A recent study found that for every $1 invested in an East African honey enterprise, $15.48 was created in social impact returns (Rural Livelihood Development Company). All of these economic and social benefits are coupled with the environmental impacts of curbing deforestation and balancing the rapid urbanization of Tanzanian cities through rural economic development. Isn’t it amazing what a little bee can do?

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