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False Organic forest honey In the northwest of Zambia, economic empowerment is thriving thanks to millions of wild bees. Here, 9,000 subsistence village beekeepers of the Lunda people receive an income via the Fairtrade scheme for producing organic forest honey. Under the producer-owned North- West Bee Products ( NWBP) organisation, the scheme guarantees a fair price for the honey, and encourages sustainable methods that help the beekeepers preserve their environment and guarantee future harvests. The handcrafted bark hives in which the honey is produced are set deep within the region’s miombo woodlands. Spanning over 28,000 square kilometres, these ancient, pristine forests cradle the headwaters of the mighty Zambezi River. Among the rich biodiversity that thrives here is one of the world’s highest densities of wild bee colonies. The beekeepers use ancient, traditional methods to gather their precious bounty ??????? . They hang the ???????????????????????? cylindrical hives high in the tree canopy out of reach of marauding honey badgers and army ants, so the wild bee swarms can start building their hexagonal honeycombs undisturbed. ?????? Then, after a couple of years, they return with primitive tools and rather flimsy protection, and shimmy up the trees to harvest the hives. This is a precarious process, and uses traditional smoking techniques to stun the bees whilst the honey is gathered. The work starts at the crack of dawn when the air is cool and the bees are slumbering. The beekeeper rapidly climbs the tree and positions himself under the hive, hoisting up a smouldering bundle of dry leaves and wood. Within seconds the bees are circling with a maddening hum as he puffs wafts of belching smoke into the opening and plunges a forearm deep inside to retrieve the honeycomb. He then quickly hauls up a plastic bucket to collect the precious golden goo, which is still covered in angry wild bees – intent on revenge, but too stupefied to take it. Half the harvest is always left behind for the bees. This raw wild honey remains in its pure natural state until it reaches our shops. Unlike typical European flower honey, the high pollen content – derived from the the many orchids and other wild flowers of the African bush – produces a rich smoky flavour that retains all of its distinctive creaminess and offers many health benefits, including enzymes, antioxidants and bioflavonoids. A TASTE OF Zambia On your visit to Zambia you may have bought an airtight bag of Arabica coffee at the airport shop, or perhaps even sampled some wild forest honey from a roadside stall. But did you know that a taste of Zambia may now be on sale at a supermarket near you? The UK is among several countries where speciality Zambian produce – notably fairtrade honey and responsibly grown coffee – now lines the shelves. Philip Dickson tracked these products to their source. 40 Travel Zambia May 2008 Left: Beehives are made – and carried – in the traditional way. Opposite top: Munali coffee beans are harvested by hand. Opposite below: Harvesting wild honey is strenuous work: first the bee- keeper blows smoke into the hive ( top left), then he removes the comb ( bottom left) and lowers it to the ground ( centre). But the rewards ( right) make it all worthwhile. STEVE BENBOW

False May 2008 Travel Zambia 41 Munali Coffee Eighty km south of Lusaka, en route to the Victoria Falls, it’s easy to overlook the small national monument beside the main road that winds through the green overlapping hills of the Munali Pass. David Livingstone first sighted the Kafue River here in 1855 on his great trans- Africa journey. Munali Coffee is now produced on a family farm on this fertile plateau at the foot of the historic mountain pass. The coffee is UTZ Certified Arabica, which means that the local community benefits from stringent ethical farming practices under an internationally recognized set of criteria. Moreover, the 3,000 farm workers from four local villages on Mubuyu Farm, together with their extended families, all receive housing, healthcare and schooling. Willem Lublinkhof, the assiduous and eccentric Dutch- born farm owner, moved to Zambia 40 years ago, met Meta his Danish wife, and settled in the sugar- farming belt just outside Mazabuka. Abandoning wheat for coffee almost a decade ago, he now feels a huge responsibility for the wider community that relies on his expertise and energy as farming boffin and businessman. Today Mubuyu Farm spans nearly 23 square kilometres. As well as the coffee plantations, the estate comprises a huge flourmill operating 24 hours a day, several irrigation dams, housing, a school, a clinic and even a football team and cycling club. At 62, Lublinkhof is still a cycling Where to buy Zambian honey and coffee Honey Tropic Tropica ? l ?? ForestFores ?? (www.( www. tropicalforest.co m) lists all UK and Irish outlets, including Waitrose and Morrisons supermarkets, Holland & Barrett health-food store, and numerous independent stores Fort For ??????????? num and Masoson ?? stocs ? ock ?? Zambian honey at stores in London, New York and Tokyo Buy online at www. ethicalsuperstore.co m and www. goodnessdirect. co. uk Coffee I ??? nterern ??? atioion ?? al ?? tr ? ra ??? de barriers continue to make it difficult for developing countries to sel their coffee competitively. However, Albert Heijn, the largest supermaket chain in the Netherlands (www. ahold.co m) stocks Munali coffee. Also Waitrose in the UK. Fi Fin ??? d ou ? t ?? m ? oreor ???? abou ? t ?? Munali coffee at www. munalicoffee.co m; www. utzcertified.or g Ch ? ececk ?? ou ? t www. ?? www. f ?? airtrir ? ra ?? de. e. org. uk for more about buying ethical, organic products from developing countries. Within seconds the bees are circling with a maddening hum as he puffs wafts of belching smoke into the opening Heritage fanatic and his passion and sponsorship spawned the Munali cycle team, which recently won the Africycle Tour in South Africa. Coffee is a potentially high- risk venture in Zambia. The planting, selective picking ( which is rare elsewhere), hand washing and drying process can take up to four years to generate an income. And with the country regularly experiencing more than eight months of drought, Lublinkhof has been obliged to invest in one of the most technically advanced irrigation systems ever invented. Known as the Open Field Hydroponic system, it carefully controls the exact amount of fertiliser, water and nutrients – in fact, everything that a sapling coffee tree could desire for strong healthy growth. ‘ It is the most expensive irrigation method in the world,’ explains Lublinkhof, ‘ but it produces the best results.’ Mubuya is also the only farm in Zambia to put the composted skins back into the ground. This level of ‘ tlc’ imbues the coffee with an exceptional refreshing taste: clean and medium- bodied, it has a delicate aroma and slightly sweet flavour, with chocolate and fruit undertones. No wonder Mubuya coffee is fast becoming recognised as one of Africa’s finest. Honey and coffee create vital jobs for people in Zambia, and make a huge difference to the lives of the average extended family of ten. One family income will provide enough money to pay for school uniforms, anti- retroviral drugs, malaria treatment and, of course, food and shelter. And the benefits spread widely: for instance, with 9,000 village beekeepers and 3,000 farm labourers receiving a fair income, approximately 120,000 poor people in Zambia have a better chance of decent healthcare and education. Meanwhile, people all around the world can enjoy the delicious fruits of their labours. ALL PICTURES STEVE BENBOW DAVID GODNY