Participating farmers in the Katanino project each receive up to five beehives to hang in their assisted natural regeneration plots. In December 40% of the beehives were harvested, delivering 2142 kg of honey. A December harvest is always the lowest, but despite this, the earnings from the honey represented around 10% of the annual cash income of households in this region. While there are other hives occupied and containing honey, the decision to select only 396 hives was based on advice from the experienced team in our sister project in Luanshya; the best results would come from beehives that had been occupied since April. A second harvest from the remaining plots will take place in July 2021.
Starting out in conservation agriculture
Promoting sustainable farming in Katanino enhances livelihoods and relieving pressure on forests. 2020 saw the start of the conservation agriculture programme; nine ‘lead’ farmers were trained, and will support their friends and neighbours in making the transition too. Five have already set up demonstration plots with maize and soybeans. Others planned for 2021 will increase soil fertility (they fix nitrogen in the soil) and include cowpeas, pigeon peas, sunhemp and Gliricidium sepium.
The Katanino Forest Rangers’ graduation ceremony took place in September. Some of the new rangers could hardly control their delight and pride on receiving their certificates. After some serious patrolling, there was time left over for some acrobatics and dancing!
Forest fire management
Being a rural community, Katanino has been spared from high COVID infection rates. Nevertheless, to prepare the communities for fire management activities in April, headmen were involved at an early stage so they could then hold small meetings in their respective villages rather than one big briefing session. After receiving training in forest fire management from WeForest Zambia and the Forest Department of the Republic of Zambia, Katanino community members are now actively participating in the management of wildfires that can destroy forests if they're not controlled.
Tabetha C. is a 27-year-old single mother of two children from Chembo village in the Serenje zone of Katanino. She grew up in the big towns on the Copperbelt and would visit her grandparents in Katanino during the school holidays. She has fond memories of collecting mushrooms, fruits and wild vegetables from the Forest Reserve, but over the years, she saw the devastating impact of forest degradation and deforestation. She wanted to be part of an initiative that would spearhead the process of restoring Katanino Reserve, so when she saw that Community Forest Resource Guards were being recruited to enforce the law in Katanino and that women were particularly encouraged to apply, she convinced her friend Precious L. to go with her and register. Both were successful! Tabetha was appointed as a Team Leader and has been recommended by the Forestry Department for appointment as an Honorary Forest Officer.
Law enforcement in traditional rural communities is usually a male job, but Tabetha and Precious have challenged this stereotype. Tabetha is hoping her trailblazing will pave the way for more women to get involved in community forest governance.
Mecca is a 74-year-old grandmother from Oposhi. She has a 20 hectare farm, part of which she uses to grow maize, beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, ground nuts and watermelons. Some she keeps and others she sells, while the other part of her land is left as woodland. Mecca registered for the bee keeping livelihood empowerment scheme after community sensitization meetings at which women particularly were encouraged to register. Her farm was visited to assess the condition of the woodland and when it was certified as good old growth woodland with potential to support bee keeping, she set aside 2.2 hectares of her 20 hectare farm for the ANR programme and was given five bee hives.
Like most families in the area, she has divided parts of her farm and given parcels to her grown children. Trees are cut for agricultural activities or for charcoal production and she has been facing increasing pressure from her children to open up the old growth woodland for charcoal production which she has resisted for a long time. When WeForest introduced the bee keeping programme, it was a huge relief to her because she can now earn an income and her grandchildren can see the benefits of keeping the trees standing.
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