Stronger demand for natural foods during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a boom in the honey industry in China. Honey, in a country with more than 1.4 billion inhabitants, has become a staple food that can be found more easily than sugar in a supermarket.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Eliamani Sedoyeka, revealed that relevant statistics show that a total of 1,558 tonnes of honey produced in the country (equivalent to 5 percent) and 1,678 tons of beeswax (equivalent to 90 percent) is being exported to various outside countries.
“The countries where bees’ honey and beeswax are often exported include Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Others are Oman, USA, Japan, Botswana, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo DRC, Somali and neighboring Kenya,” he underscored.
In Tanzania, beekeeping is estimated to generate about US$1.7 million each year from sales of honey and beeswax alone. The sector employs at least 2 million beekeepers.
Currently, the Ministry approximates that Tanzania has the capacity of producing at least 138,000 tonnes of honey and 9,200 tonnes of beeswax per year, lagging with an extra 31,179 tonnes of honey and 1,865 tonnes of beeswax in a year, which is equivalent to 22 percent.
Dwelling on the performance of the beekeeping sector in the country, Sedoyeka said beekeeping is vastly being done locally with 1,506,345 available beehives (equivalent to 90 percent) produced locally (made by logs and tree bark) whereby only 23,650 beehives (equivalent to 10 percent) are modern-made.
With such data, he observed that the country’s beekeeping sector is facing a shortage of needed technologies, ranging from the production and harvesting of honey, as well as in packaging, which denies the county a prestigious economic opportunity to benefit from lucrative overseas markets.
To enable the country rich its pure potential the parent ministry in cooperation with the Tanzania Forest Services (TFS), Tanzania Forest Fund (TaFF), Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), and other institutions are working closely to train and distribute to the beekeepers key facilities, including modern beehives and honey processing equipment.
The ministry added that it has continued to use and strengthen information systems in collecting data on beekeepers, traders, types of hives, and other equipment used to evaluate the development of the sector as well as planning and implementing effective plans that will help solve various challenges facing the sector.
Among those systems are the Ministry’s database system (MNRT Portal) and the honey traceability system.