By Nelson Mandela Muhoozi and Aloysious Kasoma
About $3b worth of market is internationally available for honey producers in Uganda, especially given that it’s organic in nature, according to Daniel Birungi from Uganda Manufacturers Association.
“We are even unable to fulfill it. And this presents an opportunity that agri-preneurs can we tap into.” The challenge, however, Birungi said is from the sustainability aspect and added, “That is why we must focus on sustainability, documenting our value systems, and our ecosystems if we are to
According to some market reports, the apiculture global market is reaching a market size of over $11b by the year 2026, from $8b for the year 2019, a 4.3% growth projection.
In addition, scattered reports aggregate about 1.2 million people to be involved in Beekeeping (apiculture), in Uganda. Besides honey, the sector produces propolis, beeswax, and bee venom for cosmetic, medicinal, food, and other purposes.
And according to Birungi, the organic nature of these products creates international demand that could grow the sector further if the market is well leveraged.
Much of these products find their way onto the informal market or cross-border trade through traders that buy directly into Kenya, DR Congo and South Sudan. But predominantly, these products are produced for the internal market which according to Birungi, leaves a window of opportunity for export.
Although the demand by the local markets is undocumented, there is evidence that a big local market exists to an extent that a lot of honey is imported from the neighbouring countries.
Published data shows that there is potential for Uganda to make and export over 500,000 metric tonnes of honey per year but Ugandan beekeepers harvest just 1% of the above-estimated production.
Vincent Ochan, the production manager at Golden Bees Limited, says the market is huge and remains untapped both domestically and internationally.
“In terms of revenue, the sector is too huge because Golden Bees alone has the potential to export 7 metric tonnes of bee wax to Europe (German) totaling to US$34,000 (about Sh119 million) and honey worth of Sh150 million per year,” he revealed during the interview with the New Vision.
Ochan mentioned that the top five importing countries are USA, German, Japan, France and UK respectively and also exports natural honey mainly to Oman and Rwanda.
He says rearing bees doesn’t require much complicated conditions and every family can manage without a huge investment.
“If every household can have a bee hive and produce at least 2kgs, we would be very far because rearing bees favours all the environments. Investing in beekeeping will go a long way in addressing the above demand gap and generating foreign exchange earnings,” he added.
However, Ochan is worried that despite the potential realization from the sector, financial institutions have shunned it because of unpredictable factors occurring.
“Our biggest challenge affecting growth lies in season and epidemic outbreaks. During the outbreak of locusts, we didn’t get any honey and missed over 10 metric tonnes,” he said
Other players say that enormous opportunities lie in the consumption of natural honey and other bee products which influence the growing number of supermarkets in neighbouring Kampala like Wakiso due to the rise in health cautious lifestyle of mainly middle-class Ugandans.
Other investment opportunities presented in this sector include: the supply of honey processing equipment and machinery, packaging materials etc.
At the value addition level, beehive products require special equipment and inputs such as wax milters for beeswax products, honey settling tanks and honey extractors, however, entry points in value-adding activities for newcomers without assets or specialised skills are scarce.
Beekeeping itself remains the most important avenue for these entrants, which makes the most sense in rural or peri-urban settings.
Four East-African countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia) are licensed to export honey to the European Union.