Kanimba on empowering disabled young people through beekeeping

when Marcellin Kanimba completed university, he realised that most youth were not involved in honey production despite its vast potential to contribute significantly to the country’s development.
Kanimba (middle) and some of the trainees demonstrate how to make candles from bee wax. The enterprising youth also makes honey (below) among other products. / Photos: Frederic Byumvuhore.
Kanimba (middle) and some of the trainees demonstrate how to make candles from bee wax. The enterprising youth also makes honey (below) among other products. / Photos: Frederic Byumvuhore.

when Marcellin Kanimba completed university, he realised that most youth were not involved in honey production despite its vast potential to contribute significantly to the country’s development.

The graduate of Accounting grew up in a family of beekeepers. So, he was aware of the sector’s potential; that’s why he took it upon himself to sensitise young people in his locality about the industry. He also started training them in modern beehive making.

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Kanimba also considered beekeeping or apiculture as one of the ways to create new jobs for the youth, create wealth and boost people’s household incomes. This was one of the inspirations behind his project. This is how K+H Hilltop Honey Company was created.

The project is based in Kimironko, Gasabo district and Kanimba uses innovative ways to produce natural honey. He has also created more jobs for youth.

The project

Besides making modern beehives, K+H Hilltop Honey Company also produces candles and lotions made from bee wax. According to the Rwanda Beekeepers’ Cooperatives Federation, there are about 35,000 beekeepers in the country, and an estimated 90,000 modern beehives, and 200,000 traditional ones.

The young entrepreneur is driven by his desire to contribute to the development of beekeeping in Rwanda.

“I also want young people to understand that beekeeping is not for rural people or the uneducated. It’s about improving the different areas in agriculture; the job requires skills in sales and marketing and involves other different tasks compared to a typical office job,” he explains.

He adds that apiculture is also essential to the health and manufacturing sectors, among others.

Empowering communities

Kanimba trains young people with hearing problems in making modern beehives and produce natural honey. The trainees learn how to make various types of modern and traditional hives. They also learn about honey extraction and packaging, the general manager of K+H Hilltop Honey Company adds.

The farmer also intends to use his company to support initiatives to help drug addicts especially young alcoholics.

Kanimba trains at least 22 carpentry students from Groupe Scolaire A.D.B Nyarutarama on how to make modern beehives, candles and lotions “because I want to give them hands-on skills to earn from the growing industry.”

The bee company was established in 2014 with support from Donna Hackley from the United States of America to support disabled youth, particularly those with hearing impairments.

Challenges

Kanimba says there are still few specialists in the apiculture sector, which affects its growth and productivity.

“Most people, especially the youth, are not interested in beekeeping because of the misconception that it is for old people and rural folks,” the beekeeper says. There are also few buyers for natural honey and its products.

Export potential

In June 2014, Rwanda was accredited among third party countries to export honey to the European Union on account of the quality compliance of its natural honey. However, the supply does not meet the demand.

Local demand for honey is estimated at 4,500 tonnes per year compared to only 4,000 tonnes of honey being produced.

The country targeted to produce 7,100 tonnes of honey by this year, according to Rwanda Agricultural Board. Depending on the season, one beehive can produce up to 28 kilogramme.

Benefits

Beekeeping can greatly impact the economy and improve people’s income and livelihoods if it is given more support and developed. Kanimba says Rwandan honey competes highly in international markets.

“Rwandans should take advantage in honey production to improve their lives. Honey is also a natural healer for some ailments, among other values,” says the beekeeper.

K+H Hilltop Honey Company has expanded the project and opened branches in Rwamagana and Kamonyi districts.

Advice

He advises youth not to shun jobs particularly in agriculture, adding that young people should be supported to innovate and start up businesses.

The enterprising young man urges youth and other Rwandans to embrace venture into beekeeping.

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