Conserve One Conserve All

We train farmers to plant more tree crops, integrate beekeeping to create pollinator habitats and conserve pollinators, promote biodiversity

Photo of Richard Okoe
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Richard Okoe

Initiative's representative date of birth

December 23rd , 1963

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Ghana

Headquarters location: city

Nkoranza, Bono East region

Where are you making a difference?

SAME

Website or social media url(s)

www.natbabeekeepers.com www.natbabeekeepers.wordpress.com www.facebook/nationalbeekeepersassociation

Date Started

December/2011

Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €250k - €500k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Working as the head of credit of a rural bank in Nkoranza, a farming community in the Bono East region of Ghana, I advanced credit to a group of cashew farmers in the community. They defaulted in the loan repayment because crop yields were poor although they applied all the cultural practices including spraying the trees with insecticides and using weedicides. I researched the cause of the poor cashew yields. I stumbled on a research that confirmed that by integrating 2 bee colonies on an hactre of cashew farm the farmers can double the crop yields and the red ants,Oecophylla spp, can biologically control cashew pests. Then it hit me. We need to conserve the pollinators and avoid using insecticides. I then formed the Association.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

In Ghana most people are ignorant of the role of pollinators. Farmers are recording low crop yields due to the lack of pollinators. Ghana spends billions of dollars importing food. The decline in pollinators is affecting our food security. This is very evident especially in the cocoa sector where farmers are doing hand pollination due to the absence of the midges, the natural pollinators of cocoa. If we do not conserve pollinators food production will be very poor and we cannot survive.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We go into the farming communities to educate the farmers about the role of pollinators and the need to conserve the. After the education we support them to acquire tree crop seedlings to plant to create pollinator habitat. We train them to avoid using chemicals or any cultural practices that affect the existence of pollinators. We the supply them with beekeeping equipment to keep bees to increase their crop yields and additionally harvest the bee products such as honey and beeswax to sell to make additional income.This economic gain is a great incentive for the farmers to create more pollinator habitats by planting more tree crops. We help the farmers market their honey and beeswax. Additionally we train especially the women and youth to add value to the bee products to produce natural cosmetics, beverages, herbal and medicinal products. To further support the farmers I have used my house as a communal honey processing and cosmetics center to assure quality and reduce cost of production.We are in the process of acquiring a shop in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to bring the products to sell in the bigger cities. We are also working on effective online marketing to improve traction.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Our farmers participated in a research conducted on behalf of African Cashew Initiative by Aidoo et al. The farmers confirm the increase in cashew yields as they integrated beekeeping in their cashew farming. We train the farmers to construct basic top bar bee hives using locally available materials. Sometimes we use mud or clay with raffia or bamboo. Farmers are now seeing many insects, rodents, and birds on their farmers that previously they were not seeing. We improve the agricultural systems. Preserve water sheds, avoid harmful chemicals. Helping the farmers market their bee products and training them to add value to the bee products to produce cosmetics appeals to the farmers. Other organizations do not have this holistic approach.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

We partenered Aidoo et al. to research into the role of pollinators in cashew yield conducted on behalf of African Cashew Initiative. We are partnering BeesAbroad of the United Kingdom to train our farmers in beekeeping and support with beekeeping equipment. We have received training from PUM Senior Experts of the Netherlands in beekeeping. We collaborate with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the training of our farmers. We involve the Municipal Assembly in our activities. We engage the Ministry of Environment, Science, and Technology. We always engage the local authorities including chiefs and opinion leaders . We received funding from the Skills Development Fund and the Business Sector Advocacy Fund to train our farmers. W e successfully carried out an advocacy on Enforcing Environmental Bye Laws on Bush Fires to preserve biodiversity. This has led to significant reduction in bush fires in the Nkoranza South municipality.I lost my 10-acre mango farm due to bush fires.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

We have trained and supported farmers in more than 30 farming communities in Ghana. We have trained over 500 farmers. Our farmers testify of the immense benefits they are receiving as a result of our program. Our latest training was in the twin villages of Boaben and Fiema in the Nkoranza North district of the Bono East region of Ghana. This training was done with the support of BeesAbroad of the United Kingdom. The villages host the famous monkey sanctuary in Ghana. Farmers in the villages who previously received training from us now testify of the benefits they have received from the conservation program.. Mr Isaac Nyarko proudly shows his newly built concrete house he built solely from proceeds from beekeeping. He is the leader of the Boaben Beekeepers Association. They now tell us the bee population is increasing and their new hives colonize quickly. Mr and Mrs Owusu Sekyerte says with pride how they sponsored their son through university education because of beekeeping.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

As many people embrace the numerous government farming programs many farmers require our services to train them to appreciate the role of pollinators. Our program is needed in every region of Ghana. Over 70% of Ghanaians are into agriculture or agriculture related activities. The pollinator education is need in almost every district in Ghana. Our program can be easily scaled and replicated in any district in Ghana. Our members are ready to go into the farming communities to train other farmers. In the villages of Boaben and Fiema the farmers testify of the increase in bee population due to our program and the increase in their crop yields. They now make more money and living better lives.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The farmers now gain more income from the increase in crop yields due to the increased pollination and also harvest the bee products such as honey and beeswax to sell. The women add value to the bee products to produce natural cosmetics to sell. The farmers are now earning more money as a result of the pollinator conservation program. They are now building better houses and taking their children to schools even through university.The farmers are living better and eating better meals and wearing better clothing.Some of the farmers now own motorbikes and some own cars. Economically the farmers the farmers are earning more and socially they are living better lives.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We help the farmers to market especially their bee products such as honey and beeswax, and the value added products such as cosmetics and beverages. We make good margins when we buy the honey and beeswax from the farmers and sell to buyers in the big cities especially in Accra and Kumasi. Currently we are in a process of acquiring a shop in Accra to sell the natural cosmetics. We are also preparing to sell our products online. We also make money by adding margins to the beekeeping equipment we sell to the farmers. Demand for bee products keep growing locally and internationally and as we expand we will be making enough money to sustain our program and be self sufficient.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

The president and founder of the organization,National Beekeepers Association,is Mr Richard Okoe. He holds a Diploma in Animal Science from the University of Ghana. Trained as a veterinarian, and worked as a banker. Has 20 years experience as a beekeeper. Mr Joshua Antwi is the lead trainer in beekeeping. He holds degree in Agribusiness. Has 5 years experience as beekeeper. Shaida Balogun is the lead cosmetics trainer. Mr Seth Adjei is the Board Chair.He is a banker. Holds a Masters degree

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine
  • Email

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

Integrating beekeeping in crop farming directly preserves and restores biodiversity. The apiaries create conducive pollinator habitats and also preserves and restores various plant and animal species.Our farmers took part in a research conducted by Aidoo et. al on behalf of the African Cashew Initiative.Cashew nut yields are known to increase significantly with insect visits to flowers (Mcgregor, 1976). To optimize nut yields of cashew farms, it becomes necessary to adopt measures to augment the populations of naturally occurring pollinators within the cashew agro-system (Freitas and Paxton, 1998). Integration of honey bee colonies into cashew orchards is one option which improves pollination and yields of raw cashew nut (RCN). The harvesting of hive products from bee hives provides additional income to farmers which improve livelihoods.Between October, 2012 and June, 2013 ACI commissioned a study in cashew farms in Ghana and Benin to determine the exact impact.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

The research findings is a strong motivation for our farmers to appreciate the role of pllinators in crop farming. Our farmers are proactively establishing apiaries and encouraging and educating other farmers to preserve and restore pollinators.The research conducted by the African Cashew Initiative, involving some of our farmers concluded withouyt any shred of doubt , that integrating bee colonies in acashew farm can more than double the cashew yield, increase the bee population, produce valuable bee poducts, and give the farmers more income. This knowledge has encouraged many farmers to preserve and multiplky pollinators on their farms and plant plant species that bees and other pollinators need for their survival, such as sunflower, acacia, and pawpaw.Mr Nyarko in the village of Fiema, has influenced his entire village to keep bees. In 2019 BeesAbroad supplied them with a number of beehives.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

BeesAbroadand Bees For Development, both development organizations of the United Kingdom, operate in our catchment arear. They support beekeepers with training and equipment supply.Sometimes they support in the purchase and marketing of beeswax. However they are not actively involved in the marketing of honey, which gives the farmers more money. Although these organizations are supporting the farmers to to promote biodiversity they are running projects that will eventually fold up and move to other areas. Our Association is made up of farmers from the local communities are motivated and committed to preserve and multiply pollinators. We assist in the marketing of the bee products on behalf of the farmers so have cash to take care of their families. This motivates them to expand their apiaries. They inform other farmers in the communities to join the Association.The Association also promotes social cohesion and support members in time of need both financially,materially, and morally

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

The Association has received recognition and funding support from the BUSAC Fund and Skills Development Fund, both in Ghana. We have also received technical training on a number of occassions from the PUM Senior Experts of the Netherlands, technical training from BeesAbroad of the United Kingdom, and Wageningen University of the Netherlands. 6 individuals of the Association has won the Annual District Best Beekeeper Award on different occassions.

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Individual Donations/Gifts _ 25% Grants _ 10% Earned income from sales _ 65%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

The prize money will be used to strengthen the operations of the Association and expand within and outside Ghana, We will invest in data collection and expert services in the measurement of social impact of our project.We will develop a structured questionnaire supplemented with an interview schedule to elicit information from the farmers with the help of trained social scientists. We will adopt different statistical techniques. The software, Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) and Excel, among others will be used to analyze the survey data. This will involve the use of percentages, means, frequency , and standard deviations to describe parameters as socioeconomic characteristics and regression model for the interpretation of the results. Livelihood analysis toolkit will be used to focuse on how individuals, households and groups of households make their living and access to resources to do so. We will train, supply inputs, and market the hive products.

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