Honey Sweetens the Path to Pharmacy Qualification
Niwagira Yeroboam is not only a student pursuing a diploma in Pharmacy but is also a successful beekeeper, harnessing the sweet rewards of his buzzing enterprise. Beginning with just five traditional hives, the sweet taste of success came quickly as he harvested an impressive 50 kilograms of honey, igniting a desire for further expansion. Thanks to the help of Trees × Bees, a project set up by Woord en Daad, Yeroboam has been able to employ local community members from the success of his hives.
A keen student of pharmacology, Yeroboam realized that his dream of utilizing bee products for pharmaceutical purposes was a viable career path. However, like any ambitious venture, Yeroboam faced significant challenges before he could truly progress. Getting a market for his honey was initially an obstacle that kept him from expanding his operations. Indeed, in the Ugandan agricultural sector, 41% of farmers are engaged in subsistence farming, with many struggling to access markets. The unpredictable weather patterns and lack of beekeeping skills contribute further to the barriers he encountered. Being a student, he struggled with time constraints, leading to pest disturbances in his hives. Moreover, the lack of capital and the difficulty of finding suitable land for his apiary were also major roadblocks.
Despite these challenges, Yeroboam’s determination never wavered. When he learned about a project initiated by Woord en Daad – Trees × Bees – through a radio announcement, he eagerly applied to be a part of it. The apiary masters in his district assured him that by increasing the number of beehives, he could access a stable market through the project, which motivated him to expand his enterprise.
Transforming Challenges into 50 Buzzing Hives
With newfound support, Yeroboam made an impressive 45 more traditional beehives, resulting in a total of 50 hives, 40 of which are now colonized. With the support of his family, especially his father, his beekeeping passion could flourish by setting up the hives on his father’s banana plantation. Participation in the Woord en Daad project proved transformative for Yeroboam. The project’s Rural Transformation Center (RTC) became a reliable buyer of his honey, minimizing price fluctuations. Fencing his apiary not only protected the bees from disturbances but also deterred thieves, adding a layer of security to his venture. Through TUNADO (The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization), Yeroboam secured a loan for youth in beekeeping, which enabled him to invest in more hives and beekeeping equipment, expanding his business further.
“Money from honey is sweet and easy. I can study while also fund other employees through this work”
Niwagira Yeroboam, Beekeeper and Pharmacy Student
So, how did Yeroboam do it?
The training provided by experienced apiary masters equipped Yeroboam with essential knowledge, allowing him to handle pests effectively. Balancing his studies with his beekeeping passion became easier as family members stepped in to care for the apiary in his absence, further strengthening their bond. Yeroboam now stands proud as part of a network of beekeepers across the country, connected through the TUNADO association. He takes comfort in knowing that in times of challenge, he has a support system to lean on, and the apiary masters are always available to assist when needed. Inspired by his own success, Yeroboam encourages youth to venture into beekeeping. It is a profitable enterprise, requiring minimal capital investment and offering a steady income stream. The allure of earning 10,000 shillings per kilogram of honey without extensive agricultural efforts has made beekeeping a promising solution to combat youth unemployment.
As Yeroboam balances his studies and beekeeping pursuits, his story exhibits the spirit of perseverance and innovation. From a beekeeper with a handful of hives to an empowered entrepreneur with dreams of pharmaceutical ventures, Niwagira Yeroboam exemplifies the limitless potential that lies within the realm of entrepreneurship, making a positive impact on both his community and his future.