More than 100 small scale beekeepers in Rufiji District, Coast Region are likely to increase their income next year after the commencement of a big project in their area, thanks to the initiatives made by a UK based organisation.
The project which will kick off next year after completion of recruitment of the beekeepers is implemented by the Traidcraft United Kingdom in collaboration with Honey Care Tanzania.
According to Honey Care Tanzania (HCT), after its commencement the project will benefit organized small scale beekeepers around the area and nearby regions.
Their income is expected to increase from honey and bee products they will sell, thus improve their livelihoods.
Rufiji District is home to more than 200 beekeepers who have fewer chances of exporting their products due to poor production and scarce markets.
Honey Care Tanzania will bring in pollinating Service which is commonly practiced in the US and Europe. Farmers place their hives in an orchard to increase yields. It is recorded that there is an increase of at least 30 percent of production.
The beekeepers get between USD100 and USD150 per hive from the honey produced in one season. This will be the first time for Tanzania to receive such service.
HCT started operations in 2004; currently it has 10 active collection centres in five regions in Tanzania, working with 1,800 beekeepers of which 10 percent are women.
The firm exported 140 tonnes of honey and 60 tonnes of wax in 2009 to buyers in the US, Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey
However experts have been calling upon the government to increase investment in the honey sector because it has not been fully utilised.
It is estimated that Tanzania is capable of producing 138, 000 tonnes of honey worth 133.3bn/- every year and 9,200 metric tonnes of beeswax worth 35 .5bn/-.
But due to inadequate investment, the country now produces only 4,860 tonnes of honey worth over 5bn/- and about 324 tonnes of beeswax worth 1bn/- per annum. This is only equivalent to 3.5 percent of the industry’s potential.
They say Tanzania’s honey is purely organic and is ranked among the best in the world having been passed by renowned quality test organisations for clarity, consistency and low yeast and moisture contents.
Tanzania has over 34 million ha of extensive and diverse forest lands hosting 9.2 million colonies of honey bees and a rich reserve of honey and beeswax ready for harvesting.
These products are highly demanded in the urban domestic market and the ever-expanding export market in Europe, Japan and the Middle-East.
Honey production is mainly consumed locally, with limited amount for exportation. Much of the harvested beeswax is exported, sometimes wasted for lack of adequate processing technologies.
Tanzania was the world leader in exportation of beeswax in the 1960s and early 1970s and has the potential to once again dominate the world market given the unique opportunities available in the country.