|LIDEFO team from left to right John College deputy principal, Simon beekeeping field officer, Jouckus honey processing manager, Remco intern from Holland, Julius finance officer LIDEFO, Daniel Director LIDEFO|
Today I met my host organization the Liberty Development Foundation (LIDEFO) Uganda. This organization was founded in 2002 by a group of men and women from the Kasese Municipal Council as a community based organization focused on education and vocational training for members of the community. Beekeeping is just one small part of the organizations training programs; they are working with women and at risk youth in starting microenterprises. They also offer professional classes through Liberty College in journalism, tourism, hotel management, accounting, early childhood development, business, and apparently much more.
One of the founders Mr. Daniel Ngangasi is the director of the organization. Paitence and I met with Mr. Ngangasi in his office to talk about the program for the next couple weeks. He brought in his Beekeeping managers Simon the beekeeping field officer, and Jockous the honey processing center manager. They were all extremely welcoming and patient answering all of my questions. They were also over the moon excited about the honey harvesting equipment and protective gear that was donated. Thanks again to everybody that made that happen.
Their current honey processing facilities are extremely cramped and certainly won’t suffice for increased production, but Daniel explained that they are already in the process of building a honey-processing center where they can really expand. I asked if I could go and see it not realizing that it was all the way on the other side of town. But everybody gladly obliged, and we all loaded up in the CNFA truck for a field trip. The building was much bigger, and it can also accommodate a selling shop. Daniel explained that the building next door will also be a teaching facility and the land behind the buildings will be used for a demonstration apiary. I can see Simon and Jockus leading regular workshops there someday.
Then we loaded up in the truck to go visit some shops in town that are currently selling LIDEFO honey. I asked one of the vendors if people buy it. She said that it was the best selling honey they have. Granted it was the least expensive, but she said that people also bought it because they new it was local. The other honeys on the self were from Kenya, the United Arab Emirates, and two other ones from different regions in Uganda.
Next we went to Daniel’s wife Grace’s shop. She also sells a lot of honey here, but more importantly this is the honey drop off center for farmers. It was the perfect site for it because it is centrally located in the heart of town with a bus stage right next to it, so farmers can drop off their honey when they go into town to visit the shops. It’s also ideal because she always has cash on hand from the shop’s sales, so she can pay the farmer immediately upon receiving the honey. This a great system, because most small honey packers can’t pay their farmers until long after they have sold the honey, so they have to sign confusing contracts that leave the farmers unsatisfied. In the evening the buckets of honey are picked up from Grace’s shop and brought over to the honey-processing center.
I think the LIDEFO is off to a great start. I hope that the next two weeks trainings will encourage the farmers to expand their apiaries and start harvesting only capped honey for sale at the LIDEFO. I also think we can figure out ways to better preserve a quality product throughout the packing process. I think LIDEFO is doing a great thing in starting a honey packing business because they are providing a consistent market for the rural beekeepers of the area, while also reinvesting the enterprise’s profits into community projects. I hope that as their business grows it can become a model for other community-based organizations to follow. I also love that this was a community-started organization, and that it is still and always will be locally run. They also have a great website for more information: www.lidefo.org