Modern technologies ‘key to Africa’s beekeeping transformation’

Embracing modern technologies and strong partnerships will promote Africa’s beekeeping subsector for the socio-economic development of the continent, beekeeping and honey business activists said.
Dr Mukeshimana (R) visits one of the stands during the beekeeping exhibition. (Nadege Imbabazi)
Dr Mukeshimana (R) visits one of the stands during the beekeeping exhibition. (Nadege Imbabazi)

Embracing modern technologies and strong partnerships will promote Africa’s beekeeping subsector for the socio-economic development of the continent, beekeeping and honey business activists said.

They were speaking during the 5th All-Africa International honey industry expo (ApiExpo 2016) that is ongoing at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (formerly called Camp Kigali). It started on September 21 and will go on untill 26, 2016.

 

Held under the theme “Driving socio-economic transformation in Africa: The role of commercial bee-keeping,” ApiExpo Africa 2016 seeks 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 Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana said the country currently produces 4,500 tonnes of honey per year but it needs to double the produce by 2020.

 

For the target to be achieved, the Minister said, modern beekeeping technologies should be embraced by farmers. They should be sensitised  and trained  on how to use the different technologies.

“A modern bee hive produces between 40 and 60 kilogrammes of honey per year compared to traditional bee hives that produce about seven kilogrammes per year,” she said.

“Farmers should realise that embracing the modern beekeeping technologies is in their interest as it enables them to produce more, and earn more revenues,” she said.

Marie Uwizeye, a beekeeper from Ruhango District, said, “Modern beehives are very beneficial. We need about 200 beehives but we cannot afford them on our own,” she said noting that one modern beehive costs between Rwf30,000 and Rwf50,000.

Minister Mukeshimana said, “Beekeepers have to be empowered to be able to professionally engage in this [apiculture] business.

‘‘I call for collective and consultative planning, dialogue and focused investment for increased productivity, access to market, increasing employment and value addition to  apiculture industry,” she said.

According to the Rwanda Beekeepers’ Cooperatives’ Federation (FERWACAPI), there are about 35,000 beekeepers in the country, estimated 90,000 modern beehives, and 200,000 traditional beehives.

Alongside ApiExpo Africa 2016, African Union International Bureau for Animal Resources (AU IBAR) is holding its 3rd General Assembly of the African Apiculture platform for honey production, bee health and pollination services under the theme: “Promoting Intra and Inter-Regional Trade of Honey and other Beehive Products in Africa.”

The Chairperson of Apitrade Africa Board, Harun N Baiya said the AU IBAR partnership is very important mainly in terms of setting up a budget for the promotion of apiculture – beekeeping honey business in Africa.

“We look forward to improving the capacity of beekeepers’ forums so as to popularise honey consumption and utilisation of bee products. We shall help them to manage those forums,” he said.

Professor Ahmed El Sawalhy, AU IBAR Head of Mission Director, said, currently, Africa is a net importer of bee products, yet, paradoxically, the highest producing countries in Africa are exporters to the same countries that export manufactured and packaged products to the continent.

“This is unacceptable as it infact causes unemployment and stiffles opportunities to provide locally produced and affordable bee products to the population of the continent,” he said.

He added that within the framework of the free trade zones and other trade promotion initiatives in the regional economic communities, there are great opportunities to increase intra and interregional trade, which honey and other products dealers should take advantage of.

“We believe that apiculture sector holds one of the keys to the achieving of the ambitious goals set out by our political leaders in Malabo Declaration,” he said.

The Malabo Declaration, he said, adopted by the Africa Heads of States and Governments has priorities revolving around enhancing food security and improving nutrition, which have been a challenge to the continent.

The participants in this ApiExpo are delegates and exhibitors from 53 countries from Africa, Middle East, Europe and USA.

It was Organised by ApiTrade Africa, in partnership with National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

The biennial event brought together 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.

According to Bosco Okello, the Chief Executive Officer of ApiTrade Africa, honey production in Africa is increasing as it stands at 13% of the global honey production up from 4% about five years ago.

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