Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world and ranks 183th out of 187 countries in terms of human development. A survey in 2003 estimated that 46.4 percent of households live below the poverty line. The results of the last census in 2006 show that almost 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Peasant farmers still live mainly on subsistence farming and small livestock. Less than 18 percent of the land is arable due to recent droughts and desertification. The main crop is cotton. Farmers’ time is set on agricultural activities that last 4 months and the remaining time is devoted to traditional activities such as food processing, which is a cycle meant to create additional income. Inappropriate infrastructure policy remains a major obstacle to a good performance of the agricultural sector in Burkina Faso.
Beekeeping is a traditional activity in Burkina Faso. It can generate income when properly done. Bees are also involved in the pollination of many plant species and, therefore, play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity in general. Beekeeping in Burkina Faso, however, fails to play its role as a vector of income generating activities for many reasons. Working methods are rudimentary and have a negative impact on the economy and food security. In fact, people work with traditional hives and use burning straw that put ashes in the honey. This method kills many bees and prevents the colony from renewing properly, which is weakening long-term production. These techniques also cause bush fires and degrade the environment. Hives are often victims of parasites and beekeepers do not master the impact on bees and honey. The marketing of goods is a big challenge due to the lack of security in markets and the poor quality of production. Most producers are left with unsold harvest, which discourages them and causes them to give up beekeeping.
Faced with these realities and deteriorating social conditions in rural areas, some authorities have recognized the need to develop improved beekeeping and other local activities as ways to enhance and preserve natural resources. However, when analyzed, implemented programs yield failed outcomes. Sometimes this is due to the ignorance of how traditional societies operate - for example, it is commonly believed that women should not participate in or be near to bee-keeping activities as it could leave them barren. Other reasons include inadequate equipment and poor production techniques, ignorance about the effects of climatic conditions and especially the lack of information on the potential of most of agro-ecological zones in Burkina Faso.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Desire has transformed the traditional beekeeping activity into a comprehensive and profitable industry for Burkina Faso and other countries in the Sahel region. Desire saw that the economic potential of the industry could be so much more than it was.
Combining knowledge from the outside, especially from Europe, with local knowledge, Desire has revitalized beekeeping in the region. Desiree established Research Centers in the rural areas to study local conditions and techniques in order to improve productivity. They also adapt foreign techniques and equipment for local production. The training Centers systematically disseminate the learning within the country and beyond. Desire has also brought in loans for expanding local businesses. He has introduced new products that can be made and sold from beekeeping, including propolis (pharmaceutical benefits), wax, and more. He has created new markets by bringing these new, often export-quality products out to the cities and other countries.
He is demonstrating that these activities, neglected for a long time for cash crops, have the potential to improve living conditions, especially in the rural areas. When they are trained and equipped, rural actors become professionals and transform these small businesses into real industries. With the promotion of all bee products, Desire offers new job opportunities to communities. He has integrated women in the production, thus breaking down traditional barriers that have prevented their participation in honey collection.
Through concrete results that show the potential for this new industry to generate steady and sustainable income, the Government has begun funding the development of the sector and adopted the model as an economic alternative in its environmental protection policy and vocational development.
Desire has started replicating his approach in the cassava and rice sectors with a view to promoting all natural resources for sustainable community economic development.