As the country continues to battle with the economic blow brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic that resulted in the institution of two lockdowns in a space of 12 months aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly second wave of covid-19 virus, the tourism host community in Murchison falls national park have embraced digital and online marketing of their bee products including honey, bee propolis, bee venom as well as fruit tree seedlings from the nursery beds established through the use of an online blog that ensured continued sales across districts and large quantity buyers.
The online blog was developed by Environment Governance Institute that aimed at champion the cause through the development of an e-marketing platform for tourism communities around Murchison’s falls communities, through the project “empowering communities for sustainable alternative livelihoods and ecosystem conservation in Murchison falls national park. The project is supported by IUCN Save Our Species, co-funded by the European Union.
The blog is an e-marketing platform that is intended to enable organized apiary groups to showcase and market their organic products through coordinated and programmed e-marketing channels that have the potential of opening a wider market to products like venom, well packed and branded organic honey to command good prices.
Upon the successful development and launch of the blog, EGI thought to mobile more communities to use the platform and how sales could be made. Therefore, between the 9th and 13th of August 2021, EGI organized meetings with communities in the districts of Masindi, Bullisa, and Kiryandongo on how to scale up the use of the blog. during the meetings over 100 members were taken through the process the uploading and managing the online blog which increases ownership of the processes as well best ways of effectively harnessing benefits from it.
Mr. Samuel wabyiona, the chairperson of kasenyi apiary group, one of the youth dominant livelihood group located around Budongo forest, thanked EGI for the innovations that have improved the marketability and sales turnover of their honey products. He said “with the introduction of the online platform, the group now prides on the possibility of showcasing well-packed displays of organic honey products will be advertised and attract outside markets from nearby cities like Hoima, Gulu, and Kampala hence commanding bulk online orders.”
Further the increase sales have improved community’s livelihoods through generation of income and food for their households and do not have to risk their lives through illegal entry and poaching of wildlife. According to statistics from UWA warden’s office in Masindi, the rate of poaching in the park has greatly reduced from estimated 169 cases in 2020 to less than 10 reported by June 2021
To scale up the endeavor, EGI has identified over 100 community groups to benefit from the intervention and seeks to identify key representatives in each group for retraining and scale up the ownership of the conservation and marketing blog at various tourism associations in Murchison falls. Ultimately, community livelihood will be secured at the same time improving the conservation status of the key species in Murchison falls national park, as most youth groups will be are now focused on improving sales and protecting wildlife that brings in tourists which are one of the target markets.
To sustain these conservation initiatives, EGI calls for collaborative support and partnership from different stakeholders to harness possible avenues of strengthening this innovation to achieve long-term conservation and livelihood goals among communities surrounding Murchison falls national park.
By Okwi John Peter, Programs Officer, Environment Governance Institute
This article was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Environment Governance Institute and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.