12 July 2005
A Limpopo farming community has ventured into the bee keeping industry.
The Nsolani community near Tzaneen has been running a sustainable farming project for more than 50 years, regularly drawing overseas students and lecturers.
The project boasts over 400 mango trees, and bees are now being kept for pollination and commercial honey production.
Community leader Cliff Shipalana says the project is helping to create new jobs in the village.
“Most of our farmers are women and through this new project, they will be able to make more money to pay school fees and buy school uniforms for their children,” Shipalana said.
The project became a reality through the support of the Beekeeping for Poverty Relief Programme, a joint venture between the Agricultural Research Council and the Departments of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, Social Development and Agriculture.
“Our role is to train the community to catch bees and supply them with funding and equipment needed for the production of honey,” says project co-ordinator Gabriel Lephalala.
Nsolani farmers will also be trained to market their honey, as well as to produce other honey products like sweets and cakes, says Lephalala.
The Nsolani community farming project was started by a group of World War II veterans in 1948. After building a settlement on the banks of a perennial river, they started a farming project modelled on those along the Nile River in Egypt.
The Tzaneen project started winning international recognition at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, when it featured in a number of presentations on the importance of small-scale subsistence farming enterprises.
As a result, a number of students and lecturers from overseas universities visited the village.
The community ventured into commercial farming after government helped them to build a warehouse and cold storage facilities in 2003.
The villagers’ next project? Fish farming.