Zambia is a big mining country: Over 70 percent of its income comes from copper mining. But the prices of copper are often volatile, and this can sometimes mean that mines have to halt operations, which can affect the people who work and live around the mines in a negative way.
Recently, the Mineral Production Monitoring Support Project (MPMSP) visited Solwezi as part of its on-going engagement with the mines. The Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development, through the MPMSP, is strengthening its production reporting to ensure it has accurate and reliable figures on Zambia’s mining production, and regular visits to the mines form part of this oversight and outreach.
During the Solwezi visit, officers from Kalumbila Mines spoke to the MPMSP about how it is making sure that the mining communities have a source of income outside the mine.
One of the ways the mine supports local beekeepers is by providing hives and then assisting with finding markets for their honey.
Agriculture Field Officer Mr Christopher Chenga says more than 200 beekeepers have doubled the amount of honey they produce from their hives since the mine begun supporting them.
“Since the start of the Trident Foundation Beekeeping Project, the average honey yields have gone from 5kgs to 12kgs per hive. One of the beekeepers even harvested 27kgs from one hive.”
Mr Chenga says the mine partnered with Bee Sweet Honey, one of Zambia’s premier supplier of honey, to provide hives. Bee Sweet Honey also buys the honey from the beekeepers and exports it abroad.
“The mine bought 1000 hives for the farmers, which were distributed amongst the 200 farmers. Just this year the farmers produced 3 tons of honey and they made over K20,000 from sales.”
Mr Chenga says there is market for by products of honey. “For instance other products from honey such as royal jelly and bee venom, which is used to make medicine, are not commercially produced in Zambia. This opens up the market for such products which the farmers here can take advantage of.” Said Mr Chenga.