Master Beekeeper Program

Grower Empowerment and Biodiversity Conservation in Ghana

In 2018, Red River Foods and Bees for Development launched a smallholder beekeeping entrepreneurship program to champion grower empowerment and support biodiversity conservation. Over the course of the three-year program, six men and women from cashew-growing communities across Ghana learned theoretical and practical approaches to beekeeping as well as best practices to operate an apiary. Today, these beekeepers maintain over 660 honeybee colonies.

Robert, cashew farmer and beekeeper, shows off the beeswax produced by his hives.

Not only does beekeeping provide a valuable source of income from honey and beeswax for these newly-minted “master keepers,” but it also helps boost the income of the community. As beekeepers translate their hives through the region, they aid local farmers by increasing pollination and, in turn, improving yields. These strides are critical because cashews are harvested just once per year. Many families rely on orchards as their primary income, so small increases in yield can make a big difference. Since the program started, 88% of farmers in nearby cashew communities have seen their yields more than double, on average.

Master beekeepers in training.

Naomi, pictured here, is just one of the Master Keepers who graduated from the program. She maintains 8 colonies on her 2-acre cashew farm. In 2020, she sold 193 kg of honey earning an additional USD 293 — a nearly 10% boost to the income of an average Ghanaian farmer.