I was traveling across northern Tanzania between the Serengeti and Kilimanjaro, learning about farming and herding in the area. This is an incredibly productive region blessed with good soil, climate and very skilled multigenerational farmers and herders. However, their livelihood is threatened by increasing drought and changes in land use. We are exploring adding rain water collection to aid agricultural productivity and human health through the dry season.
My organization, PATH, will be contributing innovations for human health through safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and we will be working with World Vision, Washington State university and the Nelson Mandela Institute to use scientific data and good market practices to improve rural livelihoods.
I was impressed with the adaptations the farmers and herders have made to improve their lives and these bee hives represent one aspect of their diverse ways of living off the land. The farmers raise primarily corn (maize) and the crops I saw were tall, ripe and healthy as anything in Iowa or Nebraska. They wind up exporting corn throughout East Africa. They also raise a lot of sunflowers, mostly for the oil.
I stood beneath a number of these hives within 10 feet and never saw any aggressive behavior. The traffic in and out of these hives was not near as intense as I’ve seen on my friend Tim’s hives. There were typically multiple entrances including slips and knotholes in the logs. It was the tail end of the rainy season and nectar plants seemed relatively abundant. I don’t know what the people, animals or bees will do between June and September when it will get brutally dry.
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