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  We are here: News- Bee Buzz | ECDC and beekeeping in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa
1) Briefly introduce ECDC and its role in the beekeeping sub-sector of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It would be nice to hear how ECDC’s mandate enables it to reach out to beekeepers’ cooperatives and SMES.

The ECDC as an economic development agency of the Eastern Cape Province operating through oversight by Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT). The ECDC objective is to plan, finance, coordinate, market and promote the development of the people of the province in the fields of agriculture, industry, commerce, transport and finance. In a nutshell, it was established by government to finance and support businesses in the Eastern Cape.

One of the key programmes of the Eastern Cape government is to finance and support activities of community based co-operatives. It is therefore through the implementation of this program that resulted in the ECDC financing beekeeping co-operatives and thereby getting more involved in understanding the Beekeeping Industry.

2) What has been the economic and social impact of ECDC’s support to the honey industry since you started?

Given that this is a new program and the ECDC has financed only 5 beekeeping co-operatives to date, the economic impact has not been measured yet. However, the social impact has been significant to members of the co-operatives that have been funded.

These co-operatives have already started moving from subsistence to commercial activities, they are now producing and packaging in clean containers, they have started suppliying local retail stores, they participate in local exhibitions and conferences, they have formalized their activities and have attended a range of training programmes. These interventions have resulted in a positive change in attitude from members about their business and we see a lot of confidence in the manner in which the businesses are managed.

3)What unique set of hurdles have you met in your work in apiculture and how have you addressed them?
Challenges Ways of addressing them
Beekeepers are
•The ECDC has spoken to the South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) to try and open a chapter in the Eastern Cape and work with existing black beekeepers in order to bring order and structure to the industry in the province
•The ECDC is finalizing a Provincial Beekeeping Strategy so as to ensure that the needs of the beekeepers are addressed and also funds are mobilized from government to assist beekeepers.
Lack of training and general knowledge on the technique of beekeeping • Members of the funded co-operatives were trained in a range of technical skills related to Beekeeping. This was designed for them to get deeper understanding of the techniques of beekeeping
Access to secure land to farm bees • This remains a challenge, however we encourage our beekeepers to farm in gated areas so as to avoid theft
Lack of access to
• ECDC is able to transport beekeepers to conference and exhibitions around the country wherein they are able to sell their honey. This seems to be working at time but is not a permanent solution because the timing of such conferences are not always consistent.
• We have also seen some beekeepers starting to sell to local retail stores, by virtue of them having secured packaging and bottling equipment. This has also brought order in how they conduct their business.
Lack of proper working equipment and material • The funded Beekeepers were bought new boxes, processing material, protective clothing and received training in business management.
• We have noticed that this intervention has induced positive attitude and energy into the co-operatives
4) What relationship exists between the groups you support and SABIO (South African Bee Industry Organisation)?
6) What is your vision for the
beekeeping sub-sector in
South Africa (or Eastern Cape)
as an organisation?
None at the moment, but SABIO has expressed a keen interest in assisting these honey producers to get organized. In fact, to show commitment, SABIO has even visited them to assess their state of operatives and even forwarded key recommendations to the ECDC on how best to assist the co-operatives going forward.
5) Why do you think it is important to integrate with the rest of Africa?
No doubt. Africa provides a huge platform for Beekeepers in the Eastern Cape. It is a close enough market, consumption of honey is increasing because of the associated health benefits, inter-trade within Africa is encouraged by our governments, volumes can be produced to meet the demand, lessons from trading with other beekeepers in Africa might help Eastern Cape beekeepers, access to equipment can be made easy by localizing manufacturing of such in order to stop importing from Europe and so on.
• To get organized and unify. There is strength in unity!
• To trade within the Republic and Africa in particular. The demand is too high there is too much honey being imported from places like Asia coming into South Africa
• Make Beekeeping a Key Priority Industry of government in the Eastern Cape and South Africa at large
• Position the Eastern Cape as a Honey Producing Province in the country

7) Any last comments?
There are huge opportunities to integrate black beekeepers in this industry. The industry is dominated by few players and the country consumes a lot of imported honey. This practice needs to stop!!!

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