The helping hand of honey

The helping hand of honey

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The Southern Africa Livelihoods Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

In a small village named Holy Cross nestled in the mountains of southern Lesotho, a group of mothers and fathers listen intently to Kelebone Majobene as he passionately moves among them demonstrating how to build a beehive.  

They have come to learn from their leader and the group’s eldest member. Never far from Kelebone’s side is the group’s youngest member, 29-year-old Mateboho Moeti.


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The apprentice: Mateboho

Mateboho lives with her three children, her mother, sister and her four children. “I completed my form 5 in 2005. After I finished there I had a desire to go to tertiary, but my parents could not afford to send me.” While she never had the chance to pursue further study, she hasn’t given up hope that one day she might be able to continue her education.

Mateboho first became interested in bee farming thanks to her neighbour Phakiso Piti who had earlier joined the Holy Cross honey group and had begun keeping beehives on the ridge above his home. His hives were just small dots on the horizon when viewed from Mateboho’s home, yet they aroused her interest. Maybe she could become a bee farmer too?

Mateboho plucked up the courage to approach the group and asked to join. She remembers some members being apprehensive and one saying, “Oh no, women are going to increase our workload”. But that perspective wasn’t supported by all, especially not Phakiso and Kelebone. In the end Kelebone had the final say and Mateboho joined as the group’s youngest member and first woman.


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Quickly she fell in with the active bee farmers like Kelebone and Phakiso. She became involved in volunteering whenever possible, quietly observing and always hungry to learn more about bee farming.

It seems Phakiso enjoyed working with the new group member as much as Mateboho enjoyed working with him.

“To be working with someone her age, it has been wonderful and continues to be wonderful. Maybe it’s because she is a youth that listens.

– Phakiso Piti, bee farmer

Helping hand of honey


A little support goes a long way

The Southern Africa Livelihoods Project was launched in 2017 by World Vision Australia and Australian Aid. The project aims to support farming groups like the Holy Cross honey group to scale up and commercialise their agricultural production. 

Since the Holy Cross honey group began receiving support from the project they have been able to grow their membership and today there are almost equal numbers of men and women in the group. There is a diverse range of training and skills to ensure their business can be sustained beyond the project.

New members have learnt important practical skills including building beehives, handling bees and how to extract honey. The practical skills have been coupled with crucial knowledge in financial literacy, record keeping, marketing and business skills. The group has also received protective clothing and equipment to assist in honey extraction and bottling of their product.


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During the first year of the project, Holy Cross Honey was able to produce a regular supply of honey for what appeared to be an ever-hungry market. The demand for their fragrant and rich tasting honey has been so significant they’ve been able to increase their price from 65 to 70 Rand/Maloti (A$6.50-$7.00) per jar. In the first year the group was able to sell 459 jars of Holy Cross Honey.

Exhausted yet exhilarated, Mateboho walks home after a training session where she learnt how to harvest honey from beehives. Her family’s home is nestled along a ridge that overlooks Holy Cross village and the local high school she once attended. While Mateboho didn’t have a chance to continue her study after school her bee farming plans have reinvigorated her future study dreams.   

 

“At school I want to learn more about bees and finance, I want to do accounting as that’s what I am good at. So that when I build up a big farm I also know the agricultural side. In one year’s time, you are going to see that one box of mine with five boxes, so I will be having six.”

- Mateboho Moeti, bee farmer  


The master: Kelebone

Kelebone sits outside his home that has an immaculate stone wall with turquoise trimmings. He remembers fondly how in 2007 he first attended trainings on bee farming and it was those early trainings that inspired him to purchase materials and build his first four beehives.

In the early years, the number of hives began to grow quickly. He would regularly seek out local cattle herders to ask if they had seen any wild swarms of bees when out in the mountains with their cattle. But it wasn’t always easy multiplying beehive numbers in the harsh terrain of southern Lesotho. Bees regularly face challenges finding sufficient flowering plants for pollination and that is exacerbated during periods of severe drought like in 2015/2016.


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Kelebone was eager to fill the landscape around his home with beehives, but he also conceded with the wisdom of someone in their 70s, that he couldn’t do it on his own. “I don’t see myself being able to corner the market. That’s when I started encouraging other people to come join the bee group because the benefit of bees is big for our plants and lives as people. That is why we started this group.”

Kelebone always had the desire to reach new people in Holy Cross and encourage them to become bee farmers. 

Because you can see that we are old, my desire is that the youth as a whole should enrol in numbers for the sake of them and not always crying about lack of jobs, they could create their own.

– Kelebone Majobene , bee keeping group leader
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Honey dreams

Phakiso is deeply grateful for how the project has supported the Holy Cross honey group to grow in membership and develop skills and receive material support.

“To World Vision I would say we thank them very much for what they have started for us. But as we have started, we promise to keep on. And to try by all means to help ourselves from where they have put us.”

Over the next two years you can follow the stories of bee farmers like Mateboho, Kelebone and Phakiso and learn more about how the project is growing new opportunities for groups to scale up and commercialise their agricultural production.

See more stories of how World Vision is growing livelihoods in Southern Africa.