Late year, Ventures Africa had a brilliant interview with a young Nigerian apiarist, Olawunmi Omope. The interview gave us an insight into beekeeping and what commercial honey farming is like in Nigeria. Riding on that wave, we believe it’s important to shine the light on female apiarists in South Africa and how they are improving their communities through beekeeping.
Mmabatho (Portia) Morudi – The Village Market SA
After resigning from her job to become a beekeeper at her grandfather’s request in 2012, Mmabatho Morudi soon realised that bees are endangered in South Africa and that the country did not produce enough honey. She also noticed that the farmers in her community could use help improving their harvest and that they struggled to market their produce, so she came up with an ingenious idea to tackle these issues simultaneously.
The idea was to empower these farmers with beehives to help pollinate their crops and improve crop yield. “I asked a few of the farmers if I could place hives on their farms to help improve the quality of their produce, and buy their vegetables then sell them to clients,” she said. Her idea was a success. Once the crops and honey are harvested, Morudi buys them from the farmers, packages them, and delivers to customers, quite a unique business model. “We now go to different rural communities and empower them by giving hives, which make honey that they sell back to us.”
Every product from Morudi’s business is part of an ecosystem that tackles food insecurity, poverty and nutrition, unemployment and environmental issues. “[My products] are organic and speak to sustainability,” she said in an interview. By training and empowering farmers in sustainable beekeeping, Morudi is transforming one rural community at a time throughout South Africa. “Our satisfaction is in knowing that through our business we are playing our part in making the world a better place for future generations.”
Metsana Kojane – Eden Roots
Metsana Kojane is the owner of Eden Roots, an eco-friendly agribusiness that’s involved in beekeeping, horticulture, and agro processing. Kojane started out as a beekeeper, before venturing into manufacturing and processing of skin and hair care products, furniture polish, and candles from the honey, propolis, wax, and royal jelly obtained from her beehives. She also cultivates indigenous herbs and processes them into teas and cooking spices.
Like Morudi, Kojane is working to ensure that bees do not go extinct in South Africa. “We are custodians of the most important creature on planet earth that is also an endangered species. Without bees there will be no food and without bees there will be no life on earth,” she told LOA. Consequently, she empowers women from disadvantaged communities, equip them with beekeeping skills to start their own bee farms and supply honey to Eden Roots. “We would like to groom as many beekeepers as possible because our ecosystem needs bees.”
Kojane, who is invested in preserving age-long beekeeping culture and horticultural practices, conducts researches on indigenous herbs in collaboration with the University of North West in South Africa, where she also teaches undergrad students about beekeeping. Eden Roots also educates communities on the importance of bees and offers bee removal and relocation services. “The biggest barrier to beekeeping in Africa is the high cost of the modern hives that were designed overseas. I would like to show Africa that our indigenous African beehive can yield a good harvest of honey and other by-products,” she said.