Our strategic plan
BEECause Gambia has a list of strategic priorities to maximise our efficacy within The Gambia in terms of promoting apiculture and pollination among the rural poor and seeking to slow the effects of climate change.
To date the priorities have been to establish a sound understanding of beekeeping issues and obstacles as well as good practice on which to base and implement our programmes of beekeeping training and field support. BCG’s initial funding has been allocated to these activities. But there are five other areas where we believe investment is now essential and urgent.
Raising awareness Although interest in bees is increasing, in our view there is still a lack of awareness of their importance and potential, and insufficient support at all levels, nationally and internationally for the types of action BEECause is advocating. Our objective is to correct this by a combination of targeted publicity and building alliances with development organisations with compatible and complementary interests.
Education Many people we meet have little or no knowledge of bees or their importance – they often see them as dangerous pests (although the sting of the so-called ‘African killer bee’ is no more dangerous than its European cousin). By introducing the subject into the school curriculum and by briefing groups such as community forest management committees and others, we hope to encourage positive attitudes and reduce ignorance.
Production, distribution and marketing Much more needs to be done to encourage production and to organise and develop markets for bee products. Only honey and wax are currently produced, on a relatively small scale. Honey is in short and irregular supply and of variable quality. Domestic demand exceeds supply and goes largely unsatisfied in the second half of the year but the price of honey is beyond the means of many, and it is often only use it as a medicine. Few beekeepers harvest wax although it is easy to sell. There are of course reasons for the situation, but none intractable. The BCG UNDP GEF project to revive beekeeping showed encouraging results. Recent monitoring visits found all the villages to be actively engaged in beekeeping – so much so that BCG was able to buy over 900 kilos of honey to be marketed in the Serrakunda urban area. This is evidence of new production, but also of the need for support to access markets. Similar arguments apply to horticultural products, as evidenced by problems during the Covid pandemic.
Microfinance One of the more obvious obstacles to investment is a lack of capital to buy more and better equipment. Microfinance could be the answer if it is set up in a way which fits the needs of beekeepers. As an example, using conservative estimates, a D60,000 loan to establish a 50 KTB apiary in a community forest could be repaid in 1½ to 2½ years, even if only 50% of the earnings from bee products were used for the repayment. Repayments would be used to form a rolling fund.
Partnership capacity Whatever the role of organisations such as BCG, ultimately Gambian people will and must act for themselves as they wish to do. We believe the best way forward is to help develop the capacity of local organisations, including agro-enterprise and forestry associations, set up and run for development purposes by motivated local people.
We have plans for all the above but our present resources, particularly funding, are insufficient for us to be able to tackle them on an appropriate scale. To do this requires another £30,000 per annum for three years. By then further development of the industry should be largely self-funded .
The financial return from a thriving industry would be attractive on any commercial measure, and the livelihoods of several thousand people improved and made more secure. If this were not justification enough, the benefit to the environment would also be very significant.
Please also see our What You Can Do page