Ignatius Pfengwe, an 83 year old man living in Zimbabwe, has secured a sustainable income through his passion and talent for bee keeping, which has flourished with the help of Progressio and its local partner organisation, Environment Africa.
Ignatius, who lives in the Nyanga region of Zimbabwe, is one of hundreds of farmers Progressio has supported to achieve food security through cost effective and environmentally sustainable farming methods.
The retired hospitality worker now owns 120 beehives, more than half of which are colonised. Progressio and Environment Africa put Ignatius in touch with outlets that sell his honey, sometimes 300 km away from where he lives.
"Bee keeping is my passion," Ignatius says. He now earns around $50 a month from selling honey, and subsidises this with crop and livestock production. He uses the extra income to buy food and to pay school fees for his two sons, aged 15 and 17.
Not only does honey production pay better than other types of farming, it is also less labour intensive.
"Once I get a beehive, all that remains for me is to harvest and market the honey, which is a lot less work than crop or livestock farming is," he says. "I don’t waste any of my income on fertilisers and seed. I just need myself and my harvesting suit."
Ignatius is now an active member of his local Environmental Action Group which counts 12 farmers (three of whom are women) as its members, and is an energetic watchdog for the protection and management of natural resources in Nyanga.
The group’s chairperson, Mr Charamba, says: "As a group, we value trees and grass because our bees survive on them. We therefore become extraordinarily concerned when people attempt to destroy them."
Progressio and Environment Africa have been working together in the region for a number of years. We are committed to helping poor and marginalised people like Ignatius improve their lives through increasing food security, promoting more sustainable land management and teaching skills related to in agro-ecology, marketing and business development.