‘There is honey in honey. There is money in honey.’ This is one of the key remarks that kept recurring at the four-day national honey exhibition which ended in Dar es Salaam at the weekend.
Elaborating on the marketing potentiality of the product at the local and international levels, Tanzania Trade Development Authority (Tantrade) acting director Jacqueline Maleko said beekeeping offers lucrative business opportunities which even youths leaving college can translate into well paying jobs with relative ease.
Although it is a fact that few young graduates tap this largely latent endowment, two simple explanations adequately show why honey has many jobs to offer.
One is that Tanzania is better placed than any other country in the world to produce honey and beeswax owing to the prevalence of abundant forests and huge colonies of honey bees.
Tanzania boasts 13 million hectares of forest cover, 42,000 sq km of which is protected, and has some 9.2 million colonies of bees scattered across the expansive country.
The country has roundabout 2 million beekeepers but produces only 7,800 tonnes of honey annually. Experts meanwhile put the country’s potential at a yearly 138,000 tonnes of honey and 9,200 tonnes of beeswax able to earn the country a combined 1.5trn/- in foreign exchange. This may appear to be small but it comes to a handsome 17 per cent of the government’s budget – which is substantial indeed.
This means that there is a whopping 130,000 tonnes which remains untapped and which our people, especially youths, can step in and produce.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, who used much of his time and energy to counsel youths during the exhibition week, said that one good thing about honey production was that it does not cost much to start up a project.
“Even with just with 1.5m/- one can start up a modern beekeeping project of three to four beehives,” he said, adding that with ten units, one could become a millionaire within a year.
For our youths, many of whom lie jobless after school, this is an excellent area where that they could develop into a reliable source of income.
But this calls for requisite skills complemented by diligence and commitment. Fortunately, those venturing into the business can easily get training and assistance in terms of start-up capital and basic equipment.
If the government and other stakeholders help by starting or supporting beekeeping programmes, with a view to improving this sector along those lines, Tanzania could become a world leader in the production and exportation of honey and beeswax in between five and ten years.
This, however, is just with respect to beekeeping. But jobless youths can find ‘honey’ in various other untapped sectors, including fruit growing, fishing, sculpture, mining, farming, pottery and all manner of music.
The sky should therefore be the limit, and not only in the figurative sense, implying that as many new avenues as possible should be tried.
What the government and other stakeholders ought to do is to make appropriate supportive interventions whenever the youths strive to liberate themselves through meaningful work.