Bees and shea help women in Mali diversify their income

sorting shea nuts

Women sort seeds from the shea tree. The seeds contain a fat that is processed into shea butter and used skin care, cosmetic and some food products. Photo: Bioversity International/B.Vinceti

In a project aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship among women in Mali, organic beeswax is being produced for a niche, lucrative and growing market in Europe.

An article in Relief Web reports on a project that aims to ensure a ready market for beeswax, which in addition to shea harvesting and commercialization will help women to diversify their income.

The project is also geared towards reversing the negative effects of decreasing pollination populations.

The Interchurch Cooperative for Development (ICCO) and private company, Olvea, are running the project with funding from US AID who will also support a study led by the World Agroforestry Centre on the effect of honey bees on shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa).

Over the next 2 years, around 3,000 women in Mali are expected to receive technical assistance in beeswax (and honey) production best practices as well as assistance to form cooperatives. The women will own and manage the beehives and sell honey both locally and internationally. The beeswax will be shipped to Olvea’s factory in Burkina Faso where it will be refined and packaged.

ICCO plans to assess the organizational, management and governance capacity of the cooperatives to assist in developing a capacity building plan for each cooperative.

“The aim is to produce and market at least 20 tons beeswax by the end of the project,” says the article.

Read the full story: Initiative on beeswax helps women in Mali'

Kate Langford

Kate Langford is a consultant writer with close to 20 years’ experience in communicating natural resource, environmental and land management issues for various government and non-government organizations. She previously worked as Communications Specialist for the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya and has worked in Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Scientific Communication.

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