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Beekeepers look to triple honey production by 2018

Posted in Sugar & Related

RWANDA - Rwanda’s sluggish apiary industry is looking to triple its production capacity by 2018 to meet growing demand both locally and globally.

The sector currently produces about 4,000 metric tonnes per year.  It employs over 80,000 beekeepers.

The ambitious target will be possible under a new partnership deal between local beekeeping co-operatives and Singaporean company, Apiary Limited.

Already, Singaporean investors have pledged to invest about Rwf2.1 billion ($3 million) in the sector to support beekeeping activities in the country’s highland areas deemed conducive for honey production.

“Rwanda has the perfect environment for beekeeping and honey production. That’s why we are collaborating with local honey producers to promote the country’s honey on the global market,” Esther Su, an investor from Apiary Limited, said.

Su said the country’s bee products also need to be rebranded to make them more competitive.

“With the approval of the Foreign Affairs Minister, the new branded products will be distributed to all embassies of Rwanda across the world as another marketing strategy,” she added.

The partnership between 20 honey producing co-operatives and the Singapore group is expected to boost beekeepers’ earnings and make Rwanda’s honey more visible and competitive on the international market, according Tony Nsanganira, the State Minister in charge of Agriculture.

By directly linking producers to the market, middlemen who have been profiteering from the industry will be effectively cut out, Nsanganira added, saying the challenge was a national concern affecting many product value chains.

“When you bring in a broker, there is a certain margin that they are going to take from a producer...This problem is also common in other farming activities as well, including  maize and cassava value chain,” he said.

“We are fighting them because we realised that the people who are directly involved do not benefit. Therefore, we appreciate the Singapore investor’s model where they will deal directly with producers.”

In 2013, lawmakers passed a law, making it easy to export local honey and make it more competitive on the market.

A kilogramme of honey costs between Rwf800 and Rwf1000 on the local market presently, which officials believe it could fetch much more if it is processed, rebranded, and packaged properly for the export market.

Beekeeping requires low levels of inputs in terms of land, labour, and capital. However, reports from the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) indicate that its potential has not been fully exploited for commercial horticultural as well as biodiversity conservation of natural trees, herbs and shrubs.

August 19, 2015; http://www.newtimes.co.rw/section/article/2015-08-19/191683/