Togo: The Return of the Bees

March 7, 2017

  • Given the insufficient income and dangers of beekeeping, many Togolese beekeepers abandoned the activity.
  • However, the introduction of new beekeeping techniques that minimize risk and do not chase away bees has helped jumpstart production again.
  • Honey production at a beekeeping cooperative in Adjengré increased from 4,000 liters to 17,000 liters in one year.

LOMÉ, March 7, 2017—Honey production has been a longstanding activity in the canton of Adjengré, located in northern Togo. However, the radical practices used by beekeepers had driven away scores of bees in recent years. Now, new more ecologically friendly techniques disseminated by the Agricultural Sector Support Project (PASA) are generating considerable interest among beekeepers and are gradually transforming the profession.

"Support from PASA allowed us to group the town's beekeepers together, train them in the use of modern honey production techniques, and provide them with equipment," said Gbati Tchagafou, Director of the Adjengré-based ESOP-Miel, a cooperative involving a service provider enterprise and producer groups. This honey cooperative is working with PASA to group beekeepers into commercial tontines, and then repurchase and sell their products.

This support has considerably modified the beekeeping practices of the members of the "Bon Succès" group, beneficiaries of the project, and significantly boosted their output.

"PASA financing has revived beekeeping in our village and is attracting a great deal of interest among residents," stated Koffi Anwi, a member of the "Bon Succès" group that comprises 14 beekeepers, three of whom are women. Anwi believes that the old practices that entailed the excessive use of herbicides and straw fires to harvest honey were harmful to the bees, driving them away from the village. This led to a decline in their output and a lack of interest in an activity that was no longer profitable.

The use of smokers to calm bees during the harvesting process and extractors to avoid destroying the beeswax and protect the larvae are some of the new techniques imparted by PASA. And the results were not long in coming. Production increased rapidly and beekeeping is now a profitable enterprise because products can be readily sold to ESOP-Miel.

"We signed a purchase agreement with the groups with which we work. Under this agreement, we purchase the raw honey harvested by the beekeepers and use the equipment that we acquired with PASA support to extract, filter, and package the product for sale," explained Gbati Tchagafou.

This is honey of a completely different quality that is then placed on the market by ESOP-Miel and customers have been quick to take note. "The honey that I buy here is more refined and better processed than what we used to buy. My children consume honey every day, and I prefer to use it instead of sugar," remarked Kpenguiye Pabizim, a resident of Adjengré.

Financed by the World Bank, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), and the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP), PASA intends to promote the development of quality local products on the market.

"We launched our activities in 2014. In 2015, we purchased approximately 4,000 liters of honey from the 16 beekeeper groups with which we work. In 2016, the use of the newly introduced techniques boosted harvest volumes to 17,000 liters. Our products are currently sold mainly in Lomé, Sotouboua, Sokodé, and Kara, but we are seeking new markets to absorb this rising output," explained Gbati Tchagafou.

There is renewed interest in beekeeping in Adjengré. "ESOP-Miel and PASA have helped us to be better organized and have revived considerable interest in beekeeping in our village. In addition, our output has significantly increased and we no longer worry about selling our products because ESOP-Miel pays us CFAF 3,000 per liter (approximately $5), whereas we would earn CFAF 1,200 per liter ($2), sometimes less, when we used to sell our products on the roadside," declared Koffi Anwi.

In a short video, Koffi Anwi relates his fascinating story as a beekeeper and his goals for the future.