WEST AFRICA – Koster Keunen, one of the world’s leading processors, refiners and marketers of natural waxes has received a grant of almost US$2 million from USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub to organize and improve West Africa’s beekeeping supply chain to meet international standards for honey and beeswax.

Since 1852, Koster Keunen has specialized in processing, formulating and marketing quality waxes to the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and candle industry.

Through the grant acquired, the firm will provide equipment, training, and new technologies, and will facilitate certifications for smallholders in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo.

“We want to have a long-term commitment to the beekeeper and to show them that this is an activity that can be professional, and they can make recurrent income.”

Sylvain Cattin – Koster Keunen’s General Manager for West Africa

The partnership focusing on supporting West African smallholder farmers is geared towards promoting the goals of the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa initiative to increase two-way trade and investment.

To this end it aims to increase the value of exports to the United States by over US$8 million, improve the beekeeping practices of 11,200 smallholder farmers, and create 1200 new jobs across West Africa.

“Our partnership with Koster Keunen is a welcome development for us in our effort to catalyze private sector investments in West Africa.

“By organizing beekeeping activities for smallholders, our partner can transform the beeswax supply chain so that it elevates the farmers and is profitable for businesses,” says the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, Michael Clements.

Beekeeping can be a profitable enterprise for African smallholder farmers by diversifying and sustaining incomes, even when other farming activities are affected by drought.

Pollination from beehives can also increase crop yields up to 30%, such as shea or cashew, within a two to three-kilometer radius.

Despite these benefits, formal beekeeping has not developed at a large-scale in West Africa. Lack of equipment, training, technology, and the establishment of sustainable market linkages have prevented larger investments in bolstering the value chain.

Thanks to the experience provided by Koster Keunen, the co-investment will tackle these challenges and enter new markets and communities with their expertise.

The company will introduce beekeeping activities as a secondary revenue source to 1, 200 new farmers, who predominantly farm cashews, and upgrade 10,000 existing farms.

 “We want to have a long-term commitment to the beekeeper and to show them that this is an activity that can be professional, and they can make recurrent income,” says Sylvain Cattin, Koster Keunen’s General Manager for West Africa. “But to do it the right way… to respect the environment, the bee colony.”

This new venture comes days after the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub partnered with WACOT Rice Limited, Nigerian subsidiary of Tropical General Investments Group to support its rice out grower scheme in Argungu, Kebbi State, Nigeria.

Under the partnership, the rice miller will invest US$8.6 million and the Trade Hub is issuing a grant of US$1.48 million aimed to directly support the Argungu Rice Outgrower Expansion Project, allowing WACOT to onboard an additional 5,143 rice farmers into its program over the next 2 years.

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