Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch, CAMGEW, an organisation based in Oku, North West region of Cameroon and working in Kilum-Ijim forest on conservation, poverty alleviation and job creation has been engaged in developing the Oku White Honey Value Chain and the value chain of brown honey for years now.
To achieve, this she has been involved in planting bee loving trees in the Kilum-Ijim forest, training of honey production, bees wax extraction, organising bee farmers to cooperatives, distributing honey equipment to cooperatives, creating a honey shop in Bamenda to convert bee farmers honey/honey products to money, distributing beehives to trained persons and improving on the quality of honey through working on quality control.
By 2017 the organisation whose aim is to act locally and think globally to meet the Sustainable development goals had trained 818 bee farmers in honey production and bee wax extraction, distributed over 695 beehives to trained bee farmers, organized more than 1000 bee farmers into 5 Oku White Honey cooperatives located around Kilum-Ijim forest. CAMGEW has also developed 3 tree nurseries with more than 150.000 trees and has from 2012 to 2018 planted 75000 bee loving trees in the Kilum-Ijim forest.
In 2018, 158 bee farmers from over 20 villages around Kilum Mountain forest were trained on modern bee keeping techniques. On the 3rd and 4th July 2018, Mbockenghas, Simonkoh, Ntowel, Tankiy and Chianka villages received their training, on the 26th and 27th July, it was the turn of Kesotin, Jikijem, Mboh and Jiyane, on 28th and 29th July Ngvuinkei II, Manchock, Keyon, Elak, Lui and Ngashie took theirs and on the 3rd and 4th August 2018, Mbockenghas, Shukov, Kai, Faakui, Vekovi and Tanshem crowned the trainings.
The first day of each training was dedicated to theory on types of honey bees, honey bee lifecycle, honey production, bee farm management, bee pest management, bee farming calendar, Oku white Honey as Geographical product, etc. while the second day involved practical work on beehive construction, mounting, honey harvesting, usage of bee farming material/equipments etc.
They learned the different trees species that are responsible for the production of Oku White Honey especially like scheffleraabyssinica, Scheffleramanni and nuxiacongesta.
The training according to Wirsiy Emmanuel Binyuy, CAMGEW Director and Apiculture and Nature Conservation Campaigner is to help forest communities gain a source of income and create jobs and also an opportunity for CAMGEW to engage more forest community members in forest conservation.
“When community members become bee farmers and own beehives in the forest they better protect the forest. The Kilum forest suffers heavily from bushfire. Bee farmers help to prevent or fight bushfire to protect their beehives and in so doing they protect the forest. In 2011, when CAMGEW started working in this forest the number of bushfire in the forest were high but have reduced substantially thanks to sensitizations, apiculture trainings and beehive donation” Mr Wirsiy added.
Konseh Daniel from Mbo, Fai Kidze from Mbockeghas and SolemanDzefoter from Vekovi who were participants left the training very satisfied saying they will do bee farming this time in a more improved way and they expect to get higher yield when they put the know to practice.
The training was made possible thanks to CAMGEW partners. CAMGEW got funding for the training from PPI-FFEM.The Small-Scale Initiatives Program (PPI)managed by the French Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN France) inpartnership with the IUCN Program of Central and West Africa (PACO). Man and Nature – France and Bees for Development – UK have earlier supported CAMGEW in the honey value chain development.
CAMGEW has been promoting cylindrical beehives made from locally available materials like raphia bamboo, alpine or Indian bamboo and grass with the believe that this beehive better creates jobs and income for local communities because all materials for its construction are locally available and affordable.
The Kilum Mountain with 3011m altitude is the second highest mountain in Cameroon and Central African region. It has a peculiar biodiversity which is linked to its altitude and climate. This peculiarity helps in the production of Oku White Honey from Kilum mountain and the Ijim forest range.is certified as Geographical Indication Product by African Intellectual Property Right Organization. Only Oku White Honey and Pendja White pepper have benefited from this certification in Cameroon.
The price of this honey has been increasing after certification for the good of local people. In 2012 the price was 2500FCFA per kilogram, in 2013 it was 3500FCFA, 2014 it was 4000FCFA and from 2017 till now the price is 4500FCFA per kilogram while others sale it higher. As the honey move from one close town to a further town the price is increasing. CAMGEW has taken this opportunity to help forest people fight poverty and create jobs by increasing honey quality, quantity and creating a market for it.