All village communities in rural Africa have a variety of animals, including goats, pigs, grass cutters, guinea fowls, turkeys, rabbits, chickens, ducks. Most farmers who raise them do not see their efforts as a great poverty reduction practice. Other than the few who raise livestock as their main jobs, such as goats and pigs, most farmers do not take time to learn the proper way of raising animals.
As we developed our program, we interviewed many rural farmers, and their main complaint focused on the absence of traditional training facilities that teach farmers sustainable, hands-on free range systems. EVCO’s program combines traditional training with modern technology in farming.
In addition to livestock, EVCO is training farmers to raise bees. Beekeeping may well be the most under-exploited farming program on the continent of Africa. In addition to honey and the many uses of beeswax, beekeeping has even greater benefits to the farmer in the form of pollination.Despite numerous benefits, it is a very underutilized choice among poor farmers. When EVCO registered our beekeeping program with Ghana Beekeepers Association, we noticed that there is not a single registered beekeeper on the entire Afram-Plains District where our farm is located. This peninsula covers 5,040 square kilometers.
Beekeeping requires little time and attention, which means most farmers can easily add it to other farming programs. As one beekeeper famously puts it, “you provide the bees with a home and they pay you rent.” For instance, a corn or vegetables farmer gets better yield when combined with beekeeping due to superb pollination by his bees. In addition he/she also gets lots of honey, beeswax, etc. because now his bees have more flowers to visit.
This program is beginning to introduce farmers to beekeeping by conducting beekeeping classes and seminars in Ghana. Our aim is to quickly duplicate our entire Poverty Reduction Program in Liberia where it will also benefit thousands of poor farmers.