"From Classroom to Community: The Transformative Journey of Makerere's 'Bees and Trees' Initiative"

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Just like this year, a student team from Makerere University took part in the WUR Student Challenge in 2022. During that edition, they participated in the Nature Based Solution Challenge, which closely resembled this year's Food Systems Innovation Challenge. Their entry, known as the Bees and Trees team, serves as a remarkable example of how a student group's idea can evolve into a successful social enterprise through involvement in such challenges.

Bees and Trees

In MT. Elgon National Park biodiversity was declining due to neighboring residents turning to subsistence agriculture for survival. The communities were often phasing climate-induced catastrophes like floods and landslides which led them to rely on the exploitation of natural resources. Samantha Natumanya and Stephen Bright Sakwa, the team members of Bees and trees, saw the need for an effective solution and envisioned nurturing communities that coexist harmoniously with nature. Collaborating closely with stakeholders and the local communities, the team identified beekeeping as a sustainable livelihood alternative intertwined with environmental enhancement.

Seed funding and coaching, supported by the nature based future challenge, enabled them to introduce beekeeping as an alternate income source while concurrently reinvigorating sections of the park and surrounding landscape through indigenous tree planting. After the challenge, with the support of Youth Food Lab, Bees and Trees was officially registered as a social enterprise. They have now established a full value-chain for coffee and honey in which they ensure equitable compensation for farmers’ produce and increase job opportunities for young individuals along the value chain through which they meet their goals towards conservation and economic growth.

Would you like to know more about the work of Bees and Trees? Check out their website or their guide to melliferous trees and crops for beekeepers!

Food Systems Innovation Challenge 2024

This year the two selected teams of Makerere University are Fruitastic 5 and Success Tribe. Dive into their innovative concepts and check out all the other selected teams here! We are very excited to see what these teams will develop and if they will just like Bees and Trees grow into a successful enterprise.

More information about the Food Systems Innovation Challenge can be found on the website or on our community page.


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Maaike de Wit

Communication Coordinator WUR Student Challenges (Wageningen University & Research)

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  • Anonymous

    Such a great initiative, very happy to read about this on our platform. I am also curious to learn if you are monitoring what the effect is on biodiversity. I know it is super early in the work you are doing with Bees and Trees but is there any impact that can be seen already?

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