15 November 2018
Breaking News

Living off bee keeping

Written by  Zenak Matekenya
One of Nosper's beehives, Pic by  Zenak Matekenya One of Nosper's beehives, Pic by Zenak Matekenya

Mzimba, June 05: Long distance to school, inadequate number of teachers and learning materials, are some of the challenges that Nosper Manyeta attributes to his poor performance in the 2015–16 Malawi School of Certificate Education examinations.

He scored 40 points which could not get him selected into public universities and colleges.

Manyeta, however, is lucky. He has room for turning the tables around.  The 2016–17 academic calendar coincided with the coming of World Vision’s Action for Adolescents (A4A) Project.

A4A had adopted Makwezu Youth Ready Club in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Timbiri in Nkhata Bay.

By virtue of being a member of the club, Manyeta was entitled to all the benefits that came along with A4A, just like the other 1002 youths targeted by the project across the country.

One of the components A4A project is the Ready for Entrepreneurship Module.

Through the module, the youth explore business opportunities in their community. When they find businesses that interest them, they are attached to the proprietor for as apprentices.

For Manyeta, his apprenticeship was done within his home compound.

“My dad was already in beekeeping business, but I never thought of tapping the skill from him. A4A enlightened me to see the opportunity lying right next to me,” Manyeta says.

The young man acquired the necessary skills from his father and in no time, he was on his own. Today, he has nine beehives that brings him a monthly average of K40, 000 that go towards supporting his daily needs.

“I have managed to find a better school. I am learning at one private school right at the Boma.

“At my previous school, fees were K4, 000 and my father paid for me. But the new school, fees is at K35, 000 and I pay from my own pocket,” he says.

Manyeta rents a hostel, two-minute walk from the school.  The school’s boarding facility is for girls only.

He says life was tough during his first attempt in form four. Long distance to and from school, about a total of 30 kilometers, coupled with low education standards and inadequate resources affected his performance.

Currently, everything is on track as he makes a second attempt to school.

“I’m doing both school and business. Sometimes you can complete school successfully but end up failing to secure a job. So, I don’t want to find myself stranded at one point,” Manyeta says.

Apart from his bee keeping, the young man is engaged in other agricultural activities such as the growing of cassava and ginger as one way of diversifying his agribusiness.

He appeals to fellow youths to give a go at entrepreneurship for self-reliance and reduce pressure on their parents.

Makwezu Youth Ready Club chairperson Edward Kaunda says the club has improved the lives of many youths since its adoption by A4A project in 2016.

From HIV and Aids awareness campaigns to youth empowerment through development of entrepreneurship skills, the club has bailed several youths out dependence syndrome.

“We have empowered club members to think outside the box and embrace the spirit of self-reliance by utilizing their own personal skills and acquired knowledge,” Kaunda says.

He adds that besides engaging in individual businesses, club members also do a group business of banana farming and currently the club has one acre.

“We sale the bananas at Mpamba market along the Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road, about 15 km from the farm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“One bunch of banana can fetch an average of K4000 and buyers take them to Mzuzu, Mzimba and as far as Lilongwe for resale,” Kaunda says.

The club is also into beekeeping and produces honey from six beehives it owns.

The initiative is not only benefitting youths that are in the club as others are also acquiring the skills through assimilation.

“We are like role models in the surrounding villages. Parents of youths who are not members of the club advise their children in reference to what we are doing.

“Some youths have even taken it upon themselves to emulate what we are doing. When they come to us and ask for advice, we are always ready and willing to assist,” Kaunda says.

World Vision Malawi Technical Programmes Manager for Education Florence Pwele says the organization is proud that the project is changing lives of young people.

According to the Ministry of Youth Sports and Manpower Development, young people in the country, who constitute 70 percent of the population, continue to face challenges on the labour market.

Mzimba District Forestry officer Lifred Banda commends Manyeta and fellow youths for their self-reliant initiatives.

He particularly singles out bee keeping which, he says, apart from giving the youths a steady income, it helps to conserve the environment.

“Beekeeping is an income generating activity that is forestry related. Hanging of beehives is done in trees hence cutting trees means nowhere to hang the hives.

“For bees to colonize the beehives, they require availability of water nearby. Trees conserve water hence bee keepers may see the need to conserve the trees,” Banda says.

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