Course:FRST370/Butterfly Farming in Amani, Tanzania: Enriching Livelihoods through Forest Conservation and Butterfly Trading

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Amani Butterfly Enterprise Source:Mini Beast

This case study is on the N.T.F.P. butterfly pupae in the East Usambara Mountains, outside of Tanga, Tanzania. The case study will examine the effects of the venture on local family livelihoods, conservation efforts and other farming activities in the area. Butterfly pupae are purchased from a group of 300 participating farmers in local villages and are sold to live butterfly exhibits in Europe. Sales data indicate that butterfly farming has increased the farmer’s annual income by 20%, while encouraging conservation and environmental stewardship on the land. The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group manages finances and marketing for the enterprise, while the pricing of the product and political factors are managed by a group of butterfly farmers on an elected committee.


The Amani Butterfly Project is located in Amani, Muheza District, Tanga Region in Tanzania[1]This region is characterized by the East Usambara Mountains, and as a biodiversity hotspot, is incredibly important for global biodiversity, and supports many endemic species. Tanzania has one of the largest forest covers in the world, with approximately 33 million hectares of forest are in Tanzania, and 59% of these forests are unprotected and under government control.

The Amani Nature Reserve was originally several smaller reserves, as well as land owned by the East Usambara Tea Company, logging companies and a group of villages [2]. The area was affected by large-scale deforestation from foreign logging companies from the 1950's through the 1990's. In 1997, the Amani Nature Reserve was established in order to try and conserve the precious area. Most villagers in Amani relied on agricultural products prior to butterfly farming, making less than one dollar in a day. The project was established in 2001.

The addition of butterfly farming enables them to pay for their food and even schools, which was a huge change for Amani villagers [1]. Currently, more than 400 farmers participate in the Amani Butterfly Project[3]. Butterfly farming not only enriches income, but it also promotes conservation in the area, as the success of the butterfly production is dependent on having the proper plant species. Butterfly farming income is divided into two parts, farmers gain 70% of the total income while the remainder goes to operating costs. As income increases, farmers will also gain a higher percentage of income[3] [2]

Tenure arrangements

The Amani Butterfly Project began in the town of Amani, which borders the Amani Nature Reserve.[4] Three other nature reserves later joined the project, which are Longuza, Kambai and Derema. All four reserves are controlled directly by the Forestry and Beekeeping Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (FBD-MNRT), a department within the Tanzanian government, but with a separate management regime. The Amani Nature Reserve has the most limited access, and is managed by a Board of Trustees and a Conservator. In addition to these government reserves, some private tea estate forests border local villages and village forests, and two of them have been declared Village Land Forest Reserves with assistance from the Amani Nature Reserve, which is under co-management of Tanzanian government and tea estate owners[5] [6]

Though the Amani Nature Reserve is a government-run national reserve, its daily management is delegated to a representative conservator. The conservator is responsible for discussing issues with the Advisory Board. Their main duties include making work and budget plans for the Amani Nature Reserve[7]. Although the Amani Nature Reserve is government-run, it is able to seek independent funding through an independent conservation group. The other two reserves, Kambai and Derema reserves only have semi-autonomous rights within FBD known as the East Usambara Conservation Area Management Program (ECUAMP[8]). Community members can collect firewood and medicinal plants only twice a week, however they receive 20% of the entrance and research fees that are paid to the reserve. These restrictions are due to the conservation of the nature reserves, and are a main reason for the development of income-enhancing projects in the area, to try to compensate for the fact that the villagers' access was limited.

Administrative arrangements

Local communities have been involved in management of the Amani Nature Reserve since its foundation, which is considered to be a great success for the project in terms of community forestry. A Participatory Rural Appraisal approach is encouraged in the Amani Nature Reserve in order to promote more sustainable management goals. Each participating town elects two representatives to the Amani Nature Reserve Advisory Board. This is a regulatory board, responsible for establishing pricing and managing butterfly harvest in a sustainable manner.

The Amani Nature Reserve has stringent guidelines for all activities taking place within it, and groups that have obtained permits for butterfly farming (groups with representatives on the Amani Nature Advisory Board) to go into the Amani Nature Reserve are only allowed to capture a limited amount of wild butterflies and seeds. Logging is illegal in the Amani Nature Reserve, regardless of any permits.[6] Forests agreement of accessibility is informal. Policy in the Amani Nature Reserve changed over past years, and it ensures local communities’ rights. Communities who agree to set aside for conservation are compensated according to the Tanzanian Land Law(1999), which is also in line with the Tanzanian Forest Policy(1998) and Forest Act(2002)[9] This is particularly relevant to the Amani Butterfly Project, as farming butterflies requires setting aside small areas of land to grow native species and conserve that area.

Affected Stakeholders

Butterfly farming provides tangible income enhancement for most butterfly farmers, and they rely on this enterprise to support their family. Forests are truly valued by the farmers, because it is typically thought that wild butterfly reproduction is proportional to forest sustainability.[8] Only a sustainable forest with high biodiversity can result in a long-term sustainable business. Thus, butterfly farmers strictly follow accessibility restriction and supervise other people’s behaviors as well.

Amani Nature Reserve is consisted of several different villages, and not all villagers work for the Amani Butterfly Enterprise. The other villagers still value the Amani Nature Reserve, their home land. Because of a high density population within the towns bordering the reserve, villagers rely on this land to support their livelihoods, just in other ways. Their daily activities include collecting forest products such as fireweed, medicinal plants, as well as hunting. [10]If the Amani Nature Reserve is too restrictive with access, local communities livelihoods will be affected.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

The Amani Reserve is owned by the Tanzanian government, specifically the Forestry and Beekeeping Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. The Amani Reserve is one of four nature reserves all managed by this ministry. They chose to elect a conservator to oversee daily management, and act as a liaison among the butterfly farmers, the Amani Butterfly project staff, and the government. This delegate is responsible for discussing issues with the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board is a group of both interested and affected stakeholders, including local villagers, regional and district authorities and organizations.

The Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) is a non-profit out of Tanzania, from which the Amani Butterfly project arose. They are overseeing ten livelihood-enrichment projects within Tanzania, the Amani Butterfly project being one of them. The TFCG provides specialized aid for aspects of the project like international exports, financial management and conservation tactics. Now that the project is relatively self-sufficient, the TFCG is rather removed from it. This has been a transition, as they are the party ultimately responsible for the establishment of the project, and the implementation of many of its practices.

The Amani Nature Reserve was originally several smaller reserves, as well as land owned by the East Usambara Tea Company, and a compilation of villages. Now it is one large reserve, with the tea company land bordering the reserve. The East Usambara Tea Company maintains partial management responsibility over the land “given” to the nature reserve, having donated a portion of its land during the formation of the reserve.


The ultimate aim of this project is to incorporate conservation and livelihood enrichment. The project’s main successes include its effects on conservation ideologies, tangible biodiversity protection, the income enhancement itself, and the producer association structure that the project has instituted.

The Amani Butterfly Project has fostered strong conservation ideologies, presumably based on the fact that this income enhancement is dependent on the presence of biodiversity. Butterfly farmers within this area exhibited a positive relationship between involvement in the Amani Butterfly Project, and positive attitudes towards forest conservation (Morgan et al. 2010.) Actual conservation and biodiversity protection has been positively influenced by these ideologies, as well as the premise of the project. Butterflies rely on specific plant types located within these nature reserves, and are necessary for their growth. In order to support their butterflies, farmers must collect seeds from these plants from the Amani Forest Reserve, and then cultivate them in the farmer’s growing areas. Growing areas are typically within/nearby their villages, which have a lower biodiversity due to development by the local people for living space. This supports biodiversity in village areas (which protects biodiversity in the reserve areas) and encourages the conservation of the forest reserve, as it is necessary for providing the plants, that support the butterflies.

Wineaster and Sheghembe (2011) highlight a few of the challenges that have arisen concerning multiple aspects of the project.[11] The enterprise only earns forty-six percent of the amount that international buyers pay, due to the fact that all of the buyers are international, and international shipping costs put a serious dent in the profits accrued through the sale of butterfly pupae [4]. Additionally, that forty-six percent does not go directly to the farmers. The profits are split between the farmers, the cost to run the project, and the village development fund (for the village the farmer is located in). On a more positive note, part of the selling process for the Amani Butterfly Project includes pooling the farmers' harvest of pupae to sell, which minimizes shipping costs, and is a factor in the project’s ability to function. It also creates a sort of producer association, consisting of the butterfly farmers and managed by the farmer-elected Executive Committee and the Butterfly Farmer’s Group, which is certainly a success for the project.

Another financial challenge with this project is that it is a seasonal market, leading to an inconsistent pattern of revenue. The majority of buyers make their purchases from March through April, with the peak from June until August, meaning that only fifty percent of their market is regular[11]. These financial realities highlight the fact that this project seems to be (at its current capacity), solely able to successfully perform as an income enhancement, and is not dependable enough to develop into a true sustainable livelihood.

Susceptibility to pathogens and parasites presents another challenge for butterfly farming. Butterfly pupae are an excellent food source, and therefore are extremely vulnerable. There was a relationship recognized between the infiltration of pests and pathogens, and the functionality of farmer’s breeding facilities (Wineaster and Sheghembe, 2011). This further perpetuates wealth discrepancies between community members, as farmers using make-shift breeding facilities (often out of manila sacks) are losing more pupae to pests and pathogens, have less to contribute to selling, and therefore make less money than farmers that can afford proper breeding facilities.


The use and access rights of villagers and butterfly farmers within the towns bordering the Amani Reserve are restricted in order to protect the land. However, this is tricky due to the fact that the destruction was caused by logging companies, and the government had granted logging access for that land, not the local villagers. Community members can collect firewood and medicinal plants only twice a week, however they receive 20% of the entrance and research fees that are paid to the reserve. These restrictions are due to the conservation of the nature reserves, and are a main reason for the development of income-enhancing projects in the area, to try to compensate for the fact that the villagers' access was limited.


The main aspect of the project that could benefit from improvements is the practice of exporting butterfly pupae to international markets. This is difficult to address, as it is extremely unlikely that a project at the scale of the Amani Butterfly Project could alter the market for a product, however the project itself could make improvements in order to enhance the positive impact that it has on the communities working within it. Mapanda et al offer an interesting suggestion for the project that centers around the idea of diversifying the project’s products, to allow for participation in local markets. As discussed earlier, exporting to international markets is incredibly expensive, and therefore is a limiting factor in the supply of product [12]. The ability to supply more to and participate in local markets would reduce the amount expended on international shipping costs. Butterfly pupae is also a niche market, and the demand for them is inconsistent, as explained previously. This established supply and demand market for butterflies limits the potential income enrichment that other products could offer the communities within the project.

These challenges are not to say that the Amani Butterfly Project is not a success. The Amani Butterfly project still provides substantial income support, and has proved to be incredibly beneficial for forest conservation in the area. However, this project could incorporate products that could be supplied to local markets in order to offset the loss in income from the international exportation of butterfly pupae, and further add to livelihood enrichment.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Scurrah-Ehrhart, C., & Blomley, T. (2006). Amani Butterfly Forest-based Enterprise, Tanga, Tanzania.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Amani Butterfly Project". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rantala, S., & Vihemäki, H. (2011). Forest Conservation and Human Displacement. Footprints in Forests Effects and Impacts of Finnish Forestry Assistance.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Scurrah-Ehrhart, C., & Blomley, T. (2006). Amani Butterfly Forest-based Enterprise, Tanga, Tanzania.
  7. Mallya, B. S. (2013). Contribution of on-farm trees towards conservation of the biodiversity of Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania. Doctoral dissertation, Sokoine University of Agriculture.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Morgan B., Jacobson, S. K., Wald, K., & Child, B. (2010). Quantitative assessment of a Tanzanian integrated conservation and development project involving butterfly farming. Conservation Biology, 24(2), 563-572.
  9. United Nations Development Programme. 2012. Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania. Equator Initiative Case Study Series. New York, NY.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Wineaster, A., Sheghembe, A.S. (2011). Internationalization and poverty alleviation: practical evidence from Amani Butterfly Project in Tanzania. Journal of Poverty Alleviation and International Development. Vol 2: Issue 2
  12. Mapanda, M (2014). "Allanblackia, butterflies and cardamom: sustaining livelihoods alongside biodiversity conservation on the forest–agroforestry interface in the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania". Forests, Trees and Livelihoods. 23. 

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