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Experts seek improved beekeeping, honey production in Africa

KIGALI, (Xinhua) -- Agriculture experts have called on African governments to support farmers to increase their incomes through beekeeping and commercial honey production.

The experts made the remarks on Wednesday during the opening of the 5th All-Africa International Honey Exposition and the 3rd Continental General Assembly (GA) of the African Apiculture Platform (APP) in the Rwanda Capital Kigali.

The small central African country hosts the continental forum from September 21 to 26, with a focus on promoting beekeeping as a commercial enterprise for smallholder farmers across the continent.

The 6th-day meeting and exhibition organized by ApiTrade Africa, and Rwanda National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), is held under the theme: “Driving socio-economic transformation in Africa: The role of commercial bee-keeping”.

ApiTrade Africa is an NGO that specializes in developing trade in bee products from Africa.

“As African governments battle poverty and unemployment, should consider supporting beekeeping and honey production to raise farmers’ incomes and employment creation,” said Bosco Okello, chief executive, ApiTrade Africa.

He emphasized on increasing incomes for beekeepers in Africa through increasing productivity, organizational strengthening and enhancing participation in the honey value chain.

“Beekeeping will enable farmers to generate more income through higher yields and possibly become a secondary source of income through the production of honey,” Okello noted.

The conference has brought together beekeepers, honey dealers, agriculturists, government officials and development partners from across Africa and beyond to discuss and share knowledge on trade and business related approaches, promote apiculture and demonstrate how commercial beekeeping drives socio-economic transformation.

According to George William Kayonga, chief executive NAEB, Honey Exposition forum is expected to improve global market linkages of bee products’ suppliers, promote bee-keeping as a source of employment and honey for exports.

“We are looking at boosting beekeeping as a source of employment that generates household income and a commercial venture for farmers. Working with both traditional beekeepers and smallholder farmers, will enable them to access soft loans, training, and markets necessary for farmers to start their own profitable beehives,” he added.

Apiculture has been practiced for many years through successive generations and along inherited patterns in many African countries as traditional activity and non-commercial nature where honey, the main product, was being used as a food product, medicine and for brewing traditional liquor.

However, Simplice Nouala, chief animal production officer, African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), called on bee-keepers to increase their production, citing the high demand for not only honey but also its byproducts.

“African governments should encourage and support local honey producers to shift away from the traditional way of beekeeping and adopt more modern techniques for higher yield,” he said.

Honey is the most popular natural sweetener globally and the global trade in bee products is worth millions of dollars every year.

Africa consumes more than three times the amount of honey it produces. Countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania produce most of the continent’s honey, according to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). 


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