Food industry execs beehive team on course for £50k

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Meet the beehive team
Meet the beehive team

Related tags Sisters food group Honey 2 sisters food group

A team of senior women food industry executives has passed the half way point in its bid to raise £50,000 for charity Farm Africa, after building beehives in Tanzania last month to boost local farmers' income from honey.

So far, the team – which included senior managers from the Food Manufacture Group’s publisher William Reed Business Media (WRBM) and 2 Sisters Food Group – have raised £32,952.36, in addition to building beehives in the country’s Nou Forrest.

Swapping their desks and ipads for hammers and nails, the team built 90 hives from scratch, as part of a plan to help local farmers make money from honey to offset the impact of deforestation. See the team members listed below.

Tanzania loses about 300,000ha of forest each year – the equivalent of 1,500 football fields every day. Forest loss reduces water supply for nearby communities and as they struggle to grow enough to eat, they turn to cutting down trees for survival, said Farm Africa.

‘It’s a vicious cycle’

That destroys the resource they need to survive for the long term. “It’s a vicious cycle and one which we hope to help break,” said ​Farm Africa.

Working alongside the local bee-keeping group to build the hives in just three days, the project aimed to “help kick-start profitable and sustainable honey farming businesses” ​for the Erri beekeeping group,​ said the charity.

Farm Africa's view

“Thanks to their heroic effort in building 90 beehives in just three days, 25 farmers in Tanzania’s Nou Forest have been able to establish honey-making businesses.” 

  • Penny Ruszczynski

The project is part of the wider Food for Good campaign, which brings together the food and hospitality industry in response to the global challenge of hunger. The industry has pledged to raise £5M to help 70,000 people move out of hunger and poverty.

‘Honey-making businesses’

Farm Africa corporate fundraising manager Penny Ruszczynski said: “The nine female business leaders who took part in Farm Africa’s Big Beehive Build can be very proud of the legacy they have created. Thanks to their heroic effort in building 90 beehives in just three days, 25 farmers in Tanzania’s Nou Forest have been able to establish honey-making businesses.

“While small in scale, these businesses will be large enough to transform their families’ lives, as well as helping conserve the forest by providing an economically viable alternative to cutting down trees to make room for crops.

By raising funds for Farm Africa and building beehives, the team was helping more smallholder farmers across eastern Africa to implement the best farming techniques to secure food supplies ​not just this harvest, but every harvest”, she added.

If you would like to make a donation to the beehive project, click here​.

In their own words

Judith Batchelar​, director of Sainsbury’s brand:

“It’s great to be involved in this project, and hopefully play a part in making a valuable and lasting different to the women we meet.  As with all societies women face a number a challenges, and it’s especially difficult for women in Africa.  Giving them independence is incredibly important so they can develop businesses and an income for themselves, allowing them to manage their money and support their families.”

Lorraine Hendle​, md, Retail and Manufacturing at William Reed Business Media:

“It’s admittedly pretty difficult to find words that adequately describe how we all feel at the end of the experience. One thing is certain, we will never forget it! 1,800 frames, 1,800 wires, 21,600 nails… We were able to make a difference. Nine women, 90 beehives, on cloud nine!”

April Preston​, group director of Innovation and New Product Development at 2 Sisters Food Group:

“The hives we build will be on the ground and as such can be farmed by both men and women alike. One particularly entrepreneurial lady, Lucia, was one of the first in this community to keep bees and has made a particular success of it, through hard work and an innovative approach – a lady after my own heart!”

Beehive-building team

  • Judith Batechelar, Sainsbury
  • Kate Ewart, Tesco
  • Rachel Griffiths, Moy Park
  • Vivienne Harris, ABP Food Group
  • Lorraine Hendle, md retail and manufacturing group, WRBM
  • Susie McIntyre, Kettle Produce
  • Marnie Millard, Nichols
  • April Preston, 2 Sisters Food Group
  • Ann Savage, Bakkavor

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