ARUA. 24 year old Innocent Arindua, a third year student of clinical medicine beams with a smile as he narrates his intention to reap a fortune out of bee keeping despite it not being his major profession.

“Bee keeping has been a traditional practice for every home in our clan and I grew up in that culture but it has been by use of traditional methods without any serious management practices”, he admits in an interview with West Nile Web.

When a training opportunity through the victim relief alliance, a local non-governmental organization was availed to him, Arindua seized it with double hands to pursue a short course at Adraa agricultural college in Madi Okollo district.

“The training in Apiary management has helped me to professionally manage my apiary, I do hive inspection and check for bee pests, slash the grass around the hives thanks to the training” Arindua narrates.

He has set his sights on improving his seven hives to more than 80 in the next two years and dreams of helping his fellow youth in Ngurua village, Odupi Sub County, Terego district to follow suit.

He is in a group of twenty other youth drawn from the refugees and host community to help the badly destroyed environment by different types of tree seedlings and helping to use good practices to preserve the environment.

Under the project that began in December 2019, half of the youth are drawn from the refugees and the rest from the host community.

Mr Philip Matua, the programs manager for the victim relief alliance says through funding from Malteser international, their mandate is to support restoration of 90 hectares of degraded forest land, establishing wood lots by individuals and support 100 farmers with bee hives to support their nutrition.

Mr Kennedy Acema, a field officer with the organization says the intention of training the twenty youth is to set an example in their communities for others to follow.

“We have advised the refugees to pick fruit trees since they have small pieces of land but for the host communities, they can pick anything of their choice since they have enough land; additionally they were provided seeds of beans, maize etc. to supplement their food at home” he explains before adding

“We want to engage them for two years after which the group will take the full operations of the nursery management”

In a bid to improve their management, the group has been trained on other vital areas of nursery bed operations like record keeping.

An apiaryAn apiary farm in Ngiurua village, most hives are still local.

Benefits of the enterprise

Mr Joseph Wani, the Village II, Zone 17, refugee welfare council (RWC) secretary for environment says the project has strengthened the relationship between refugees and the host communities.

He says as a result, many refugees have been given pieces of land for farming while many previously redundant youth now have a source of income.

Mr Emmanuel Ezati, the chairman board of directors of the nursery project says the youth have immensely benefitted from different life skills. He says additional trainings in record keeping and marketing have made the youth self reliant.

“Refugees and host communities have in the past destroyed trees without replacing. The group offers an opportunity for people to recover those cut trees meaning through the project, the land that you have seen bare will be green in the future” Ezati further explains.

His vision of the youth group is to have many more branches opened in different parts so that more people are reached.

Mr Joseph Wani RRefugees including Mr Joseph Wani (in pic) have hailed the impact of the joint venture.

The challenges

Drought is such a big hindrance in Ngurua village and often tree seedlings end up drying due to excessive sunshine coupled with the sandy soils.

Despite already being registered at the Sub County, the group is yet to open a bank account, all transactions have not been fully completed due to this hindrance.

Group members also complained that some of the seedlings are brought during a wrong season that doesn’t support the growth of young seedlings. Many often end up dying due to excessive heat.