A group of 14 businesswomen from the UK food industry is today (16 October) travelling to Tanzania to help support female farmers living in the remote Nou Forest.

The group - which is led by Sainsbury’s brand director Judith Batchelar and includes Lorraine Hendle, managing director at British Baker publisher William Reed Business Media – is taking part in the Big Beehive Build for the international charity Farm Africa. The activity is sponsored by poultry, meat and fish processors Marel.

They are hoping to build 120 Langsroth beehives in the village of Bermi in the Babati District in three days, 30 more than they built in three days when they visited Tanzania two years ago. They also hope to raise £80,000 for Farm Africa.

The hives will be used by women from the Bermi beekeeping group to build sustainable honey farming businesses and give them a steady income. The 300 sq km Nou Forest where they live has suffered severe deforestation in recent years.

“Tanzania loses around 370,000 hectares of forest a year – that’s 1,000 football fields every day. By helping local communities make money from forest-friendly businesses like honey production, Farm Africa not only helps local communities escape poverty, we help protect the forests for generations to come,” said Farm Africa fundraising head Jenni Bright.

Joyce Lali, one of the women who set up a honey production business after receiving beehives built by the challenge group in 2015, said it has given value to their lives.

“I send special appreciation for making us women seen,” she added. “Before, we were invisible in the community. You have helped us increase the value of females in the community. Before, we were oppressed by men and we didn’t earn any of our own money. Now, I earn my own money and I can buy the things I need myself.”

Between 14 October 2017 and 14 January 2018 donations in support of the Big Beehive Build will go to Farm Africa’s Growing Futures appeal that will help young farmers living in western Kenya develop sustainable horticulture businesses. Gifts from individuals based in the UK will be doubled by the Government through UK Aid Match, meaning gifts will go twice as far.

This team taking part in the Big Beehive Build comprises:

  • Catherine Allen, Rowse Honey
  • Judith Batchelar, Sainsbury’s and Farm Africa Trustee
  • Helen Brierley, Vitacress
  • Viv Harris, ABP Food Group
  • Lorraine Hendle, William Reed Business Media
  • Ursula Lavery, Moy Park
  • Gillian McAuley, Devenish Nutrition
  • Marnie Millard, Nichols PLC
  • Ann Savage, Marel
  • Judith Simpson, Rowse Honey
  • Helen Sisson, Greencore
  • Hannah-Louise Smith, Metro Bank
  • Alice Stanton, Devenish Nutrition
  • Frances Swallow, Finsbury Foods