…as Honey Production Industry Gathers Momentum for Growth
By Thomas Chale, TZ Business News Special Correspondent.
Tanzania, also called land of Kilimanjaro, covers 945,000 sq Km where 1,904 sq km is in non-reserve forests, while 1,252 sq km is reserve forest; and it is home to three of Africa’s largest in land lakes.
Amid this abundant forest biodiversity, the country’s bee-keeping industry has until recently relied on traditional tree bark and log bee hives for honey harvesting; an activity practiced mainly by poor bee keepers in rural areas all over the country.
But over the years, the method has made the country to lose an investment opportunity which could have uplifted the economy of the majority rural dwellers. The traditional method has also impacted on the environment since de-barked trees dry up. Potential forest flowering plants are also reduced.
A revolution is nevertheless building up in the bee-keeping industry; thanks to efforts made by Tanzania’s former Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda. The Prime Minister who completed his term in the wake of swearing in of the new Tanzania President November 5, 2015 is an ardent bee keeper predicted to spend his retirement making honey.
The Prime Minister’s active participation in the industry has given Tanzania’s bee keeping industry a new facelift; the industry is now taken seriously. One of the best indicators of improvement has been the quality of honey presented every year at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, an event conducted every year from 1- 7th July. The fair is locally called ‘Saba Saba Fair’.
In the past there were 5-10 bee keepers present at the fair displaying poorly packaged honey and they were given a far end corner behind the Ministry of Natural Resource & Tourism. This year (2015), when the saba-saba fair marked the 39th event at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair grounds, and things looked completely different: there were more exhibitors and more innovative technologies were on display.
The apiculture (bee-keeping) industry was not left behind. There were 20 exhibitors this time, selling high quality, well-presented honey. There was high quality honey, high quality bee keeping equipment in the form of bee hives, protective clothes, strainers, smokers etc. And unlike in the past the bee keepers displayed their products in a standalone pavilion.
A trend has also developed in which technical support to bee-keepers has grown. Support comes from organizations such as BTC (Belgian Technical Cooperation), WWF (World Wide Fund For Nature) SIDO (Small Industry Development) P & P Company, Follow the Honey, and Honey King and many other upcoming organization working to improve the Tanzania Apiculture industry. The industry seems to now deserve a new description: ‘the giant is awakening’.
More effort is needed, however, as may be noticed that the country is big and has tremendous resources to make Tanzania the world’s leading honey producer not only in terms of quantity but also quality in the diversity of honey varieties from the lowland coastal forest including mangroves, the scrub land of central Tanzania, the acacia forest and miombo woodlands spread all over the country. The varying terrains should make a big difference. You are welcome to the 40th ‘Saba Saba’ event in Dar es Salaam from 1-7th July 2016. Contact the author here: firstname.lastname@example.org. (This article was first Published November 6, 2015)