The upcoming 5th All-Africa International honey industry expo will focus on how to make beekeeping a commercial enterprise.
The event will begin on September 21 to 26, at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (formerly Camp Kigali).
Organised by ApiTrade Africa, in partnership with National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB), it will be held under the theme, “Driving socio-economic transformation in Africa: The role of commercial bee-keeping”.
To be showcased are bee products, bee-keeping technologies, innovations and programmes and brands intended to promote apiculture.
Also, beekeepers will undertake training in bee-keeping technologies and how to make beekeeping a commercial undertaking.
The expo is expected to improve global market linkages of bee products’ suppliers, promote bee-keeping as a source of employment and environmental protection, as well as attract investments in apiculture.
The conference will bring together diverse national, regional, continental and global level researchers, policy makers, honey trade support networks actors, development partners, and other stakeholders on a single platform to discuss and share knowledge on trade and business related approaches, promote apiculture and to demonstrate how commercial beekeeping drives socio-economic transformation.
Participants will include delegates and exhibitors from Africa, Middle East, Europe, USA and other parts of the world.
Speaking at a news conference in Kigali on Thursday, the NAEB Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador George William Kayonga, said some local beekeepers use new technology in beekeeping, while others still do it traditionally.
According to the Rwanda Beekeepers’ Cooperatives’ Federation (FERWACAPI), there are about 35,000 recorded beekeepers in the country, estimated 90,000 modern beehives, and 200,000 traditional beehives.
“The meeting will offer a platform to share experiences on the best beekeeping practices as well as the technologies available around the world, that are worth introducing in the country,” Kayonga said.
He said a programme under Rwanda Agriculture Board was involved with transfer of skills, business linkages, market research as well as quality certification to facilitate trade on the international market.
Bosco Okello, the Chief Executive Officer of ApiTrade Africa, said the researchers will share their findings at the event.
“History tells us that our fathers and forefathers practiced beekeeping on a subsistence scale. But, we have realised that beekeeping is actually a commercial enterprise,” he said.
He cited lack of knowledge and skills among the main challenges facing beekeepers which need to be addressed urgently.
Honey market available
In June 2014, Rwanda was accredited to export honey to the European Union, along with 30 other countries.
But, since July 2015, only some 3,550 kilogrammes (3.55 tonnes) of honey were exported, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
Amb. Kayonga said a Singaporian company, Apiary, had started exporting Rwandan honey, mainly to Singapore, at $14 a kilogramme.
He said that about 4,000 tonnes of honey are produced in the country per year against an estimated demand of 4,500 tonnes.
The country targets to produce 7,100 tonnes of honey by 2017.
Jean Marie Vianney Munyaneza, the manager of Agriculture Diversification and Product Development Division at NAEB, said some areas that are suitable for beekeeping have been mapped, including Nyungwe National Park.
“We are putting more efforts in areas near the Volcanoes and Akagera and Gishwati national parks. We are laying modern beehives and setting up honey collection centres as well as focusing on linking honey beekeepers’ cooperatives with the buyers,” he said.