LUSAKA, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Each day, hundreds of trees are cut down in Zambia for purposes of charcoal burning, a trend that has not only contributed to the depletion of the country's forests but also resulted in ecological imbalances.
In an effort to curtail deforestation and ensure sustainable livelihoods among the rural poor, ODI, an organization involved in professional beekeeping has been conducting education and sensitization meetings with charcoal burners and farmers in selected rural communities in Zambia.
The essence of the meetings is to inform targeted communities about the advantages of investing in conventional beekeeping to both protect the environment and improve livelihoods.
"One tree can give you about four bags of charcoal once you cut it down and burn it. But if you hang two or four beehives on a tree, you get a continuous income and at the same time save a tree. This is the information we are taking out there," said Francis Mwale, ODI Beekeeping cooperative secretary.
Mwale further revealed that charcoal burners and farmers in central Zambia where the sensitization meetings have been conducted are now eager to invest in conventional beekeeping methods, which according to him promote the sustainable use of natural resources.
"The response has been overwhelming. We are currently working on providing them with conventional beehives. We are also working to reach other parts of the country," he said.
Mwale further said aside from helping to provide sustainable livelihoods and a range of health benefits through honey production, bees enhance the productivity of plants as they contribute immensely to pollination, which is vital for both plant and animal survival.
George Ngoma, chairperson of Lupili market, a renowned charcoal trading place located in Zambia's capital Lusaka, noted that encouraging charcoal burners to take up beekeeping would have a positive effect on others involved in the charcoal trade.
"Charcoal resellers, transporters, and a host of others involved in the business would also be encouraged to take up less hazardous work. Charcoal trade is not only detrimental to the environment but also to humans' health," Ngoma said.
He added that many charcoal traders are willing to abandon the hazardous business but that they lack information about lucrative and eco-friendly ventures such as beekeeping. Enditem