A contract with bees in the village of Lotumbe

A contract with bees in the village of Lotumbe.

The village of Lotumbe is located in the equatorial forest (at about 300km from Mbandaka, in the Province of Equateur in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Here and elsewhere in the province, people used to see bees around flowers but nobody could imagine that humans could handle and shelter bees which are mostly known and hated for their dangerous sting. From 12 to 25 of June, thanks to the financial support of HandUp Congo, the Disciples Community of Congo (“CDCC”) brought together 34 people to study at the “school of bees” where participants learnt the life of bees: how they reproduce, how they are organized, and their importance on the environment and the rural economy.

Two trainers, Toussaint and Gérard, were recruited from PLAAC, a cooperative of beekeepers in the province of Kongo-Central (the former Bas-Congo) and together with Engelemba Célestin, the CDCC’s agronomist, they conducted a 12-day training in Lotumbe. Their travel spent also four days for departure and returning on the river.

After this training, the trainees understood that, instead of destroying and scattering colonies of bees, the community will prepare a good environment for them and the latter will supply honey to the village of Lotumbe and the Province of Equateur as well.

We met some participants and heard from them some interesting stories. What has been their impression of the training?

Pastor Boyaba simply said:

Now, I am a beekeeper. It was for me a real discovery to learn step by step how I can improve the living conditions and increase the income of my family from beekeeping. I commit to integrate this activity in my daily ministry for the church and I hope to succeed.

For Jean Entonto, the community development assistant of Lotumbe, the continuation of the practice of what they learnt will be for Lotumbe an additional living mechanism. He thinks that “youth can now rely on beekeeping and hope to get additional income.”

Regarding the sustainability of the training, the trainers are confident in their work and join the CDCC vision on the possibility to form from Lotumbe/Equateur a strong cooperative for honey production in Congo. In fact, Gérard thinks that Equateur in large and Lotumbe in particular are good places to promote beekeeping for many reasons of which he spelled the availability of natural trees and flowers, water in abundance, local materials for making hives, the city of Mbandaka which can be a direct consumer of honey. Toussaint focuses on the cooperation when he says: “we need to have good news from the cooperative which has been created in Lotumbe. From this community structure, we will be in a permanent cooperation and together, PLAAC and Lotumbe cooperative will contribute at changing a lot of things in the lives of the youth and the whole rural community as well.”

Bees are no longer the enemies of human life in Lotumbe, they will be used for improving the daily life. The community has to protect them in order to get their product.

-by Désiré SAFARI Kanyena, community development co-worker and HandUp Congo advisor