TANZANIA – South Africa has sent a delegation of 10 people to Tanzania to learn the best art of bee farming, especially in beekeeping technology and research.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Benedict Wakulyamba, said the delegation of the beekeepers is also looking into establishing cooperation between Tanzania and South Africa.

South Africa is currently producing 2,000 tonnes of honey a year and seeks to double its production to 4,000 this year while Tanzania produces over 32,000 tonnes annually. Ethiopia and Tanzania are the first and second largest producers of honey in the continent respectively.

According to the Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) agency strategic plan, the East African country plan is to increase production to 60,000 tonnes in 2025. More than 90 percent of the honey produced is consumed locally, with only 5.0 percent being exported.

The honey subsector contributes to the national economy by generating about 19 million US dollars per annum and employing more than two million people.

“The country’s success in bee farming has attracted visitors to come and learn more. Secondly, they also want to learn how to raise awareness by motivating their society to increase honey consumption, as we do,’ Deusdedit Bwoyo, the Director of the Department of Forestry and Beekeeping at the ministry, said.

The South African Head of Delegation, Mr. Zakaria Mokgathlha, said Tanzania is one of the countries that have made great strides in bee farming.

“I was disappointed to learn that the number of beekeepers in the country is dwindling and part of that is because of the influx of blended honey that’s coming through our borders that forces beekeepers to leave the trade,” said Holzapfel, owner of Bee Loved Honey, a manufactures beehives and packages pure honey for sale online and at selected outlets.

“Also, South Africa is a net importer of honey. We only have production capacity, as a country, of 2,000 tons, [and] the country consumes more than 5,000 tons, and what’s been scarier is that of the 5,000 tons they consume, most of it is not even real honey, it’s blended honey.”

Besides being a culinary delicacy, it remains a highly consumed commodity in Africa and worldwide because of its medicinal benefits, antioxidant properties, as well as its antibacterial and antifungal power.

However, the future of honey production looks murky as the world’s bee population is declining because of intensive farming practices, land-use change, mono-cropping, pesticides, and higher temperatures associated with climate change.

Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN).

As much as we rely on bees for honey, bees are also an important organ in food security. This bee die-off threatens to intensify food insecurity. About one-third of commonly eaten foods rely on crops pollinated by honeybees, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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