Agriculture – a seemingly peaceful, natural profession – is a surprisingly competitive world. There is competition among agro-entrepreneurs for resources: water, land, equipment, buyers and investors. The first goal of the Incubation Centre of Cibitoke (ICC) in northwestern Burundi is to sensitise agro-entrepreneurs to the idea of working together. The ICC supports farmers and agriculture workers to formalise their groups into small enterprises and cooperatives, which can lead to remarkable growth.
Beekeepers Apollinaire and Antoine are members of a local cooperative in Cibitoke called COOPACI (Cooperative des Apiculteurs de Cibitoke). A year after joining the incubation centre and completing trainings on the treatment process of honey, word spread about the benefits of cooperation amongst the agricultural community. Apollinaire and Antoine were requested by other a younger generation of beekeepers in Murwi and Buganda to train them in the breeding and nutrition of bees.
Both beekeepers acknowledge the wider impact of cooperation. The extra earnings they now make as a result of the trainings they offer allowed Apollinaire to increase his share in the COOPACI cooperative. He was able to receive a loan from a financial institution to start a family business.
Antoine described something greater than income, materials and equipment that have benefited the two of them. His head tilted to one side he said that he gains the most satisfaction from seeing younger generations so interested in beekeeping and being able to share his knowledge.