People who live near Queen Elizabeth National Park are using apiary projects to keep wildlife out of their gardens.
Kataara Women’s Poverty Alleviation Group-KWPAG helped the farmers in Kicwamba Sub County of Rubirizi district get more than 200 beehives along the park’s edge and in their fields.
Some farmers gave up their land at first because animals were always getting into their gardens. Instead, they rented land far from the village.
Mary Goretti Natukunda, a member of KWPAG, told URN that they started the project after undergoing training supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature-WWF on how they can sustainably grow crops adjacent to the national park. She claims that previously, wild invasions were so widespread that some farmers would lose all of their crops in a single season.
Natukunda adds that while the initiative was meant to protect their gardens, it has also turned into a business opportunity as the group is able to collect more than 500 litres of honey every three months.
Grace Beshemeza, a resident of Kataara village, said it was becoming almost impossible to grow food on their land because of continuous elephant raids. Beshemeza, who later joined KWPAG, says she has been able to boost her household income by selling surplus food and honey.
Immaculate Tumwebaze, the KWPAG chairperson, says since they adopted beekeeping, they have been able to witness full harvests from their gardens for the first time in many years. She adds that the group is now seeking more hives so that they can expand their honey business as they also protect their gardens.
Moses Abigamba, a farmer in the same village, says most of the fertile land in the area is bordering the park and is prone to wildlife invasion. He says the beehives that have been put up by the community have been of great benefit in scaring away animals such as elephants. The group is also producing paper bags, bracelets, and books using elephant dung.