• Outdoors Outdoors

Woman helps create buzzing local economies one bee farm at a time: ‘We used to produce one bucket of honey and now we are producing 8.5 tons’

“We had to convince them to allow us to create a hive on their land.”

"We had to convince them to allow us to create a hive on their land.”

Photo Credit: iStock

Meet Mmabatho Portia Morudi, a South African bee farmer extraordinaire educating rural communities on biodiverse conservation methods to preserve and revive nature while creating markets for produce — all in an effort to improve overall livelihood.

It all started after taking a bee-farming course in 2012. Morudi discovered that South Africa faced a honey shortage because of a dwindling bee-keeping industry. 

While bees are known for their honey, they’re also powerhouse pollinators. Bees pollinate approximately 35% of food crops consumed by humans and 80% of all flowering plants. 

Human survival depends on bees, and Morudi embarked on a mission to save the threatened species. The road wasn’t always a smooth one. 

Morudi said, according to Food For Mzansi: “The fact that there weren’t many bee farmers around brought out a lot of skepticism and we didn’t have enough land at the time, so we relied on community members and people to allow us to create beehives on their farms.”

It was a tall ask for locals. She explains, “Being in a community that knows bees for stinging and nothing else was hard because we had to convince them to allow us to create a hive on their land.”

Morudi saw an opportunity to assist with the economic development and food security challenges for local farmers. This idea led to the co-founding of The Village Market SA.

The co-founder describes it as an “emporium of village produce and products. We set up bee farms in rural communities to assist farmers with bee pollination, which improves their crops and yields and once their produce is ready, we buy it and beautifully package it in wooden crates and deliver to homes, wellness centers, and companies.”

The outcome has been remarkable. Her efforts have created awareness, pride, and economic development in rural communities. She now owns Iliji Bee Farm in South Africa.

“We used to produce one bucket of honey and now we are producing 8.5 tons. We are now able to go to certain retail stores and see the brand come alive,” Morudi prides.

She’s the recipient of the 2018 INCO South African Women Entrepreneur of the Year and RoshGold Woman of Impact award in 2017. She also partnered with Elephants, Rhinos & People to help diminish poaching efforts using bees.

Morudi’s goal is to teach more communities about bee farming in hopes of transformation, changing the face of agriculture one hive at a time.

She challenges the modern idea of farming, saying: “It’s known as a business for old, dirty looking males in khakis. But I can still rock my stilettos and be a farmer.”

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider