Savannah Forest Beekeepers in Cameroon: Actions to Reduce Vulnerability uri icon

abstract

  • The savannah forests in Adamaoua, Cameroon, are home to traditional, forest-based beekeepers, subsistence farmers and pastoralists. This sparsely populated region is economically marginal and little developed, with lower than national average incomes. Forest apiculture is important here: honey, beeswax and propolis contribute on average to 68% of household income and have high food, medicinal and cultural value. Bees are also critical pollinators of crops and trees. Practiced by 48% of the population in Djerem Division, apiculture is a route out of poverty only for a few larger-scale beekeepers, but provides a safety net and income diversification for the majority of the 12,000 beekeepers in the region. This savannah ecosystem has been historically subject to climatic changes. Unusual and increasing climatic variations add to human and forest vulnerability by affecting flowering seasons, pests and apiculture production. Land tenure is traditionally regulated, and the government, the formal landowner of public domain forest, is practically non-existent. Increasing apiculture product commercialization, mineral finds, dams and growing migration are transforming local perceptions of forest and land tenure and adding to already insecure livelihoods. The results of research (2004–2010) on how these beekeepers use the forest, their vulnerabilities and responses indicate that individual and group solutions are being bricolaged to secure livelihoods, adapt and mitigate changes. This includes formalization, collective action, product value-adding, tentative customary tenure changes and innovative new chain and market arrangements. Apiculture professionalization and product diversification are increasing the value of forest beekeeping and of revenues for men and women

publication date

  • 2016
  • 2016