Nkhata Bay Honey Producers Co-operative (NHPC) is Bees Abroad’s longest running programme. It was led by Pam Gregory until her untimely death in 2015. The majority of the people in the district are agriculturalists and fishermen. They grow cassava, which is their staple food, and also groundnuts, bananas, maize, pigeon peas and millet. The people along the lake earn their living through fishing. About 80% of the adult male population seeks employment overseas.
Nkhata Bay is in the Northern Region of Malawi.
In 2002, Bees Abroad supported the community through the construction of a new processing facility to collect, process, store and package honey hygienically. A village-based system of trainers has been introduced, with ten trainers who are accredited through the BBKA Certificate in African Beekeeping. They each train and look after about 100 beekeepers, producing a great deal of honey.
They have taught over 1000 people beekeeping skills – reaching the BBKA Certificate in African Beekeeping – some at advanced level. Additional training has allowed beekeepers to divide colonies so there is less dependence on natural swarming; one of the biggest difficulties people face in getting established.
Two farmer-based associations test all the honey arriving at the bee-keeping centres as there is a reliable market for honey which conforms to strict NHPC demands. These demands ensure that the group meets all the country’s honey regulations. The initiative has paid off as NHPC only sells honey which is recognised to be top notch honey under the brand name Forest Gold.
Into the future
Work continues with this project, and with the need for more outlets, support is being given to the community to acquire all the certification for supermarkets and other large outlets to purchase the honey. If this is successful there will be a steady demand for the high quality honey which is now being produced.