A Sweeter Future: Tanzanian Honey Processor Paves the Way for Women in Beekeeping

A woman beekeeper in Tanzania holds up a honeycomb.
Central Park Bees is supporting women's engagement in Tanzania's beekeeping industry.

Beekeeping is a big and buzzing industry in Tanzania. Employing around two million rural people, it has the potential to impact the livelihoods of farmers across the country. However, beekeeping was traditionally seen as a man’s job and women’s engagement in the industry continues to be limited.

Changing the perception of women in beekeeping

Veronica Banghe is a beekeeper who is changing this perception. Before joining Central Park Bees Limited, a social enterprise that sources and processes honey and beeswax from smallholder beekeepers, Banghe relied solely on farming to make a living. However, with the growing impact of climate change, she found herself struggling to make ends meet.

Central Park Bees offered her a lifeline. Through the Feminist Entrepreneurs Growing Green Economies (FEGGE) project, funded by MEDA, Central Park Bees provided Banghe with free training, equipment loans, and extension services. These resources helped her to move into beekeeping and to enhance the profitability and environmental sustainability of her beekeeping practices, empowering her to become a successful beekeeper.

“Through the FEGGE project and working with Central Park Bees, I have managed to increase my stable income streams. From only depending on farming, where we depend on rain, and as you know the climate affects the rain season, I shifted to beekeeping, where I harvest four times on a single hive throughout the year.”

– Veronica Banghe

Meeting growing honey demand 

In the Dodoma and Njombe regions of the country, Central Park Bees Limited is transforming the lives of women like Banghe and driving economic activity. After processing honey and beeswax from over one thousand smallholder beekeepers, the enterprise exports the finished products to Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Along with these guaranteed export markets, Central Park Bees gives its partner beekeepers access to the tools they need to grow. It also focuses on offering these services to women beekeepers to boost their participation in the industry.

With its high-quality products and sustainable business model, demand for Central Park Bees’ products outpaced its ability to supply them. “We found we were stretching ourselves to go the extra mile – giving education to the beekeepers, training them, giving them equipment they can use to produce honey,” says Joseph Kadendula, Founder and CEO of Central Park Bees.

It was to help address these challenges that Central Park Bees earned a matching grant from the FEGGE project in July 2022. The grant from MEDA – which is matched in value by a contribution from Central Park Bees – aims to increase the enterprise’s processing capacity and boost the supply side of the business.

A woman beekeeper waves at the camera in Tanzania.

Central Park Bees doubles honey production and women’s participation

Through the grant, Central Park Bees was able to double its production capacity, hire additional officers to reach more beekeeping farmers, and provide more training and equipment to the farmers they work with to produce higher quality and quantities of honey and beeswax.

With modern beekeeping equipment, the volume of honey beekeepers produce has increased and, in turn, the income they earn has grown by more than 30 percent. Outreach that targets women farmers has also led to an increase in women beekeepers in the traditionally male-dominated industry. Today, more than 50 percent of Central Park Bees’ beekeepers are women.

Banghe’s experience is showing other women that beekeeping is a viable livelihood option. By working with more women farmers in Tanzania like Banghe, Central Park Bees is transforming the landscape of beekeeping into a more gender-inclusive job option within the larger agriculture industry.

Learn more about MEDA’s FEGGE project in Tanzania.

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  • MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates)

    MEDA is an international economic development organization that creates business solutions to poverty. We work in agri-food market systems, focusing primarily on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South. Our success is measured by income, improved processes, increased knowledge, and the creation of decent work.

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