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Development project 10 of 16
Communities around the Mgahinga National Park, Uganda
Mountain gorillas
Local Partner:   KIBECO

Beekeeping is a traditional and widespread activity for the communities surrounding the Virunga Volcanoes. As well as honey, hive products can also be used in the production of sorghum beer, banana wine, wax and medicinal products. Kisoro District, to the extreme southwest of Uganda, is a densely populated and impoverished area where beekeeping provides a viable opportunity to generate income, but owing to inefficient equipment and inadequate techniques, productivity is much lower than it could be. Furthermore, reliance on the forests to support hives and aid honey production has a detrimental effect on the national parks and poses a serious threat to the survival of the mountain gorilla. To address this problem, the Gorilla Organization began supporting the Kisoro Beekeepers Cooperative Society (KIBECO) in 2004, providing training, equipment and funding to invest in their members’ honey.

The overall objective of the project is to reduce human pressure on the Mgahinga National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda and reduce poverty in the surrounding communities by promoting alternative incomes. The specific objectives are:

  • To train beekeepers in modern apicultural techniques
  • To improve the quality and quantity of KIBECO members’ honey
  • To increase the beekeepers’ income through marketing greater quantities of honey and hive products
  • For KIBECO to build its capacity by purchasing greater quantities of crude honey from its members



In early March 2004, the Gorilla Organization organised a beekeeping workshop with KIBECO to train 53 beekeepers from Kisoro District in modern apiculture methods. Follow-up training sessions have been held since this time, and many of the beekeepers are now using modern hives rather than the traditional variety, increasing productivity and producing greater quantities of better quality honey. 

The Gorilla Organization provides KIBECO with a credit fund, which it uses to purchase crude honey from its members. This is processed in a refinery centre to add value, and the refined honey is then marketed both locally and nationally, providing a stable income for the cooperative and its members. The volume of crude honey purchased and refined honey sold is steadily increasing and KIBECO is now generating considerable profits and having a significant impact on poverty alleviation within the area.

A queen bee rearing centre was recently constructed and, after a few final touches, will be ready for use. Trees will be planted alongside the centre to provide the bees with easy access to foliage, and the installation of a water tank will aid the honey production process. The rearing and use of queen bees will improve the colonisation of hives outside the national parks, and will help to increase the quantity of honey produced and therefore the profits generated. Over the coming months, the Gorilla Organization will fund the development of the queen bee rearing centre and will furnish it with the necessary equipment. A workshop for beekeepers on the rearing and use of queen bees, and the benefits this will bring will also be funded.



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