Beekeeping for Poverty Relief™ Programme

The Beekeeping for Poverty Relief™ Programme has been designed to help people to help themselves. The programme is a joint venture between the ARC-Plant Protection Research Institute and the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The Beekeeping for Poverty Relief™ Programme (BPRP) started in April 2001, and has achieved considerable success. The success of the programme is largely due to the interest and commitment demonstrated by those involved, this includes government officials, on a national and regional level, as well as various private organisations contributing to the sustainability of the programme.

The BPRP formulated a framework for integrated development to address sustainability and empowerment of programme participants through crosscutting issues such as rural and urban development, basic needs, environmental management and gender and resource development. The programme assists poor communities to be entrepreneurial within the honeybee industry. 

With the funding from the Poverty Relief Funds of government the ARC has introduced beekeeping to over 500 people from 35 communities. Previously disadvantaged people of South Africa had limited exposure to beekeeping while, around them and on their tribal land, beekeepers utilised the natural resources for their commercial beekeeping operations.

The programme has proved its objective to develop optimal, sustainable and renewable usage of all available resources and this resulted in entrepreneurial development. This was proven when the programme received the Platinum Award from the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust.

The ultimate goal of the programme is not merely to expand current projects, but also to promote developmental beekeeping in communities in all provinces in the country. It is our conviction that once developmental beekeeping becomes established in the rural communities, it will be difficult to cope with the flood of requests for this programme.

Why Beekeeping?

Through beekeeping:
  • Communities are empowered to utilize the natural resources that are in their environment.

  • They learn how to manage, take care off and make money from the resources in their own environment.

Beekeeping is probably the only form of agriculture with an overwhelmingly positive impact on the natural environment. It is a valuable conservation tool, allowing people to derive economic benefit from indigenous forests and other floral resources in a non-destructive way, ensuring local participation in conservation efforts. It also makes a very significant contribution to other forms of agriculture by effecting the pollination of many economically important plants.

Commercialisation, Future Vision, and Exit Strategy

The implementation team has an intimate knowledge not only of southern African honeybee its biology and beekeeping methods, but also of the functioning of the industry.


The ARC- Beekeeping Development Program team is therefore uniquely able to assist beneficiaries become successful, commercial beekeepers within a flourishing industry.


To achieve this objective, several specific interventions are directed at the industry itself, to increase the opportunity for new entrants to become commercially successful.


  • A marketing platform is in place for the exclusive (but optional) use of the beneficiaries of the Beekeeping Development Program. The key element is the INYOSI HONEY™ brand. The necessary trademark registration applications have been filed and provisionally approved to secure exclusive commercial rights to the phrase "inyosi honey" and various other elements of the INYOSI HONEY™ brand. These exclusive rights extend not only to honey, but also to other commercial activities relating to the beekeeping industry.


  • All products marketed under the INYOSI HONEY™ brand are accredited as "Proudly South African", and may carry the "Proudly South African" logo. INYOSI HONEY™ products are currently the only hive products accredited as "Proudly South African".


  • Beekeeping groups with ready access to markets are encouraged to purchase, package and sell honey from more remote groups. This prevents beekeepers from losing their hard-earned markets when they have no honey of their own to sell. It also ensures that a range of different honeys from different floral sources and parts of the country is available for sale. In this way, the various groups become dependent on one another, and potentially destructive internal competition is minimised.


  • Beekeeping groups have complete freedom to choose how, where, to whom, and under what label they wish to sell their products. However, agreements are in place with commercial packers, stipulating fair floor prices, for any beekeeping groups that might not be able to establish any other market.


  • A high-volume processing and packaging facility for hive products is presently being set up in Umtata to service the groups nearby. This facility will be owned and operated by the local beekeeping groups. This facility will give beekeepers access to equipment, storage and handling facilities that will allow them to compete with other beekeepers around the world. This model will be replicated wherever the densities of beekeepers and production volumes increase to warrant it.


  • A provisional agreement has been reached with Grahamstown Brewery (Pty) Ltd that should result in the production, under license, of iQhilika African Mead at the Umtata processing facility.


  • INYOSI HONEY™ Tourism Centres and Routes are being planned in partnership with Honeybee Foundation and Products (see ). Drawing on the "Big Pineapple" at Bathurst for inspiration, the program team envisages the first of these in Umtata, associated with the processing facility. Great interest is already being shown by at least one tourist operator, Sun and Sandals.


  • For these initiatives to be successful, it is critical to develop appropriate business capacity. For this reason, in partnership with other role players in the local beekeeping industry, a number of additional opportunities will be presented to the best beekeepers:


    • Masterclasses will expose new beekeepers to advanced experiential learning from the most successful commercial beekeepers in South Africa.


    • Apprenticeships will expose selected new beekeepers to the more successful beekeeping businesses in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia who are competing successfully in the global industry.


    • The very best new beekeepers will be selected to visit international commercial beekeepers


  • The exit strategy of the Beekeeping Development Program is envisaged as BEE POWER, a Black Economic Empowerment company that would play a pivotal role in the South African industry. This would be largely owned by the beekeeping groups established through the programme. It would manage the processing, handling, packaging and marketing of the hive products produced by the member groups for the global market. Note: financing this company would be a completely separate matter from the funding of the implementation of the Beekeeping Development Program.


Ms Elize Lundall-Magnuson

Campus: Roodepaat (West)