Apiculture farmers urged to target foreign markets

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By Alois Vinga

NATIONAL Trade and Development Agency, Zimtrade has called on Apiculture farmers in Zimbabwe, to target exporting honey to the European Union markets, where demand for the product is very high.

The State trade agency said this would also give the farmers access to foreign currency.

In a statement, the export facilitation organisation said there is an opportunity for Zimbabwe to tap into given demand for honey and bees wax for industrial use across the world.

“In 2017, the United States of America was largest importer for honey with a world market share of 24 percent, followed by Germany and Japan with 12 percent and 6 percent market share respectively, according to Trade Map.

“During the same period, the top importers in the European Union alone were Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium recording positive annual growth in value between 2016 and 2017,” Zimtrade said.

The agency added that most food processing, pharmaceuticals companies are now preferring to use honey because of its unique flavor, taste and healing properties. It underscored the fact that products such as such as salad dressings, baked goods, snacks, and beverages containing honey usually have higher prices than those without honey.

As a trend the EU is a net importer of honey from third world countries. The increased demand in Europe for honey and the inadequate supplies put exporters from developing countries at an advantage.

“In 2017, the world traded over 700,000 tonnes of natural honey valued at over US$2.3billion. The USA alone imported around 200,000 tonnes of honey, while Germany imported 80500 tonnes,” said the statement.

The announcements come at a time when the local honey sector farmers are smuggling their products to regional countries as they seek to avoid expensive licensing fees.

Zimbabwe Apiculture Platform secretary Welcome Bhila recently bemoaned that beekeeping farmers were required to pay a lot of money in levies before exporting the product.

“The major challenge facing beekeepers is the documentation that is needed when one needs to export. For example, the Environmental Management Authority and the Veterinary Services Department charge RTGS$500 each for issuance of honey exporting permits. Apart from these levies, there are other procedures that bee farmers should meet,” Bhila said.

He said before the honey exportation permit is issued, processing premises should meet certain food handling and safety standards and expensive honey shipment permits which are unaffordable for most local farmers.

According to Bhila, this has forced local farmers to turn to smuggling their product into into Zambia, Botswana and South Africa.