January 9—The World Bank is paying for a scheme to help improve Ugandan honey quality and take advantage of access to the European Union (EU) market.
Over a million homesteads derive income from beekeeping in Uganda and the subsequent making of honey, but mostly under semi-commercial circumstances.
“The European Union has opened up their market to Ugandan honey, but the bigger challenge is, we cannot afford to supply to the required quantity, because of poor production of honey alongside compromising quality,” Dr. Robert Kajobe who chairs the Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO) said recently.
The National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) through the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NALIRI) is carrying out training in partnership TUNADO. Dr. Kajobe is also the NARO Director.
“This is why the two institutions are coming up to skill-up farmers with modern methods that will enable them to produce in bulk,” Dr. Kajobe said.
Over 200 farmers from the districts of Lwengo, Kalungu and Masaka recently received modern equipment to support efforts in increasing efficiency.
Experts say Uganda currently harvests only 1% of a potential 500,000 tonnes of honey per year. It is only one of five countries in sub-Saharan Africa licenced to export honey to the EU, Uganda has failed to meet home-grown demands for honey, let alone export to this potential market. The Uganda Beekeepers Association estimates that only between 800-1200 tonnes of honey is produced per year due to current lack of bee-stock.
Plans are to commercialise the different bee products in Uganda under the World Bank project and finance key areas including honey production, beeswax and bee venom. As a reproductive material, beeswax is used in beekeeping in the form of a honeycomb base, but it also has plenty of industrial uses.
In the world market, the demand for beeswax is higher than its supply while bee venom has several uses in both medicine and cosmetics. “With this project we shall be in position to overcome some of the challenges hindering Uganda to produce enough honey for export. As TUNADO and NARO we are targeting youth and women who are potential producers of honey in the country,” Dr. Kajobe said.
According to Dr. Kajobe, Uganda has an comparative advantage compared to other countries in the region because of its ideal climate.
“Uganda’s comparative advantage towards the production of honey has increased but now in the region its Ethiopia leading Uganda in honey production and beekeeping then followed by Uganda and Tanzania. These countries have increased their bee production, but the good news in Uganda is that bee farmers are getting organised under the TUNADO. This has enabled farmers to increase production but there is space for expansion,” he said.