Zambia: African honey industry prodded

By Nawa Mutumweno- The Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA) has called on stakeholders in the honey sector on the continent to drive the industry forward through creating a policy framework at national and regional level; achieving consensus on minimum standards; establishment of national and regional honey platforms; working together on expanding regional and international markets for products; and development of capacity of all players.

ACTESA chief executive officer Dr. Cris Muyunda said this when he officiated at the closure of the ApiExpo Africa 2010 on Thursday, October 28, 2010 at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka.

It is only through these interventions that the honey and bee products sector on the continent could be accorded its deserved status on the regional and international market, he elaborated.

The event, organized by ApiTrade Africa  and the Zambia Honey Partnership (ZHP) with support from ACTESA, SNV, Cordaid, Hivos and the Zambian government  was held under the theme – “The role of Beekeeping in attaining food security in Africa.” It ran concurrently with the Seed Harmonization Workshop on Policy and Regulations for the COMESA region under the theme “Enhancing small-scale farmer seed trade in COMESA region.”

The three-day conference addressed relevant perspectives from across Africa, global production and marketing trends, challenges in honey, quality standards, Bees and the Environment, access to financial services and business development  services, among other topical issues.  The expo was attended by public, private civil society and development agencies from Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Italy, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

According to the communiqué issued at the end of the event, its objective was to bring together the different stakeholders and players in the sector with the view to sharing experiences and information, showcasing products and services, creating business networks and exploring ways of improving the performance of the sector.

The delegates resolved that as a matter of urgency, the following areas be addressed:- to develop policy frameworks at national and regional levels for the coordination and development of the sector (policy development to facilitate the growth and development of the sector is at different stages in most countries in the region); to support efforts towards the adoption and harmonization of standards and regulations in order to promote trade in African bee products (there are various standards and regulations among the African countries); the dearth of information and information sharing should be addressed by launching a research agenda in critical areas to contribute to the flow of scientific information among key actors in the sector; to facilitate the development of a robust, reliable and accessible funding mechanism for the sector (this is one of the major constraints impacting on the performance of the sector); to strengthen and facilitate the development of national and regional organizations to link into international trade bodies to increase and promote local and export market.

Other elements of the communiqué include: to provide capacity building to national and regional bodies to facilitate information management, technology, upgrading and market access; to institute measures such as entrepreneurship and skills development to facilitate the  commercialization of small-scale beekeeping activities for increased operational viability; to enhance productivity and profitability (key actors should modernize technologies in production, processing and marketing in the honey sector; the threat of bee diseases, pests and poor hygienic practices  should be prioritized in the African honey sector (there is need for regional coordinated effort to address this challenge through situational analysis and introduction of mechanism of surveillance, mitigation and management); to develop sustainable land use management through such measures as agro-forestry programmes to reduce deforestation, thus mitigating climate change; and to explore and develop mechanisms for further collaborations with regional and international bodies such as ACTESA to support the growth and development of the honey sector.

The overall winner of ApiExpo 2010 was Kitgum Women Beekeepers Association (KITWOBEE) of Uganda while the second prize went to Forest Fruits Limited (Zambia). SAF Natura SVL went away with the third prize in the overall best winners category.

Producer Associations had the following winners: Kitgum Women’s Beekeepers Association (Ist Prize); Zambia Honey Council (2nd Prize) and Connoisseur Honey Cooperative of Uganda (3rd Prize).

Forest Fruits scooped the first prize in the processors and exporters category. Golden Bees Limited (Uganda) and Mpongwe Beekeeping (Zambia) won the second and third prizes respectively.

Equipment suppliers’ first prize went to SAF Natura SRL while African Beekeepers Limited (Kenya) bagged the second slot.

It was official opened by the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, on behalf of President Rupiah Banda,  who emphasized Government’s commitment to establishing a comprehensive programme to assist in upgrading  productive capacities and building the competitivess of the honey bee sector.