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  We are here: News- Bee Buzz | ApiTrade Africa builds hope among beekeepers and honey traders in Africa:
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS

In 2018, ApiTrade Africa will celebrate its 10th anniversary at Abuja International Conference Centre, coinciding with the 6th edition of ApiExpo Africa.

It will be time to remember the mission of a few individuals who set out to promote the honeybee industry in Africa as a united African voice.

 

It will be time to remember Dr. Bob Malichi (RIP), a Zambian selfless manager of North West Beekeepers’ Association, a beekeepers’ cooperative which pioneered exportation of Zambian honey to the United Kingdom around the turn of the Millennium! It will be time to remember the immense contributions of Mr. Paulinus Mpuya (RIP) from Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources whose inputs can never be forgotten in shaping up the organization, even long since he passed on.

Laying the foundation

The rest of the people who led the work of ApiTrade Africa, who are still around, will not forget this history. Certainly, they would wish to write more history by building on the momentum so far achieved, since the launch in 2008. On 24th October 2008, His Excellency the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda, while launching ApiTrade Africa, said, “The launch of ApiTrade Africa is in line with the regional integration effort to which we are consistently committed. It comes at the time the regional Heads of Governments from sub-Saharan Africa have just concluded a summit to further the African trade integration agenda here in Kampala. There can be no doubt that, for this agenda to be realized, we need to support and encourage regional groupings of this nature to flourish”.

It is known that the formation of ApiTrade Africa was driven by two key factors. First, was the fact that African produces unique and high quality bee products which have unfortunately not been recognized in the world market. The need to create a worldwide awareness became an urgent need for a body whose prime duty is to champion the penetration of the regional and international markets for the African bee products. Secondly, there is the spirit of African nationalism in which we realize that as Africans, working together across national artificial boundaries, would build a critical capacity to advance trade, and not aid. We therefore must define our own place and agenda for the honeybee industry, if we are to remain relevant.

What we found

Historically, beekeeping in Africa has been practiced for hundreds of years, which is a strength in itself. Unfortunately, it was just for food, passion and hobby, and no one intentionally made money out of sale of honey or other bee products. When the sense of commercialization came, the beekeepers certainly were very scattered, poor, disempowered and lacked the voice to demand for services (from government) or negotiate with market agents and policy makers.

 

Furthermore, most African governments are pre-occupied with political, macro-economic and social issues and therefore overlook the potential of honey trade to deliver pro-poor benefits; governments rarely invest in service delivery to the honeybee industry. Beekeepers, honey traders and potential exporters all suffer from the lack of representative bodies, supportive policies, market access, and access to information, which would help them in decision making. ApiTrade Africa therefore became the first not-for-profit, membership organization, to effectively represent the interest of the African stakeholders.

By all counts, the greatest contribution of ApiTrade Africa so far is that it has provided leadership in the African honeybee industry. There is a track record of the progress of the honeybee industry in terms of business development, trade and investments both by the private sector and government. There is an increased sense of cooperation between Government and the private sector, with increased awareness created using different platforms such as ApiExpo Africa, which has been held in Uganda (2008), Zambia (2010), Ethiopia (2012), Zimbabwe (2014) and Rwanda in 2016. Inter-continental trade between Africa and other continents has increased; intra-African trade in bee products and beekeeping technologies, equipment and services has also grown.

Current challenges

A number of challenges are still evident and need to be solved, including the lack of data on production and trade in terms of bee products. Governments are still not fully committed to financing apiculture in their respective countries. Whereas there is a strong progress in many countries, in terms of policies and trade capacities, there is very little to report in many parts of the continent. More awareness is still necessary, especially driven by local associations an organizations in those countries at the kick-off stage.

The future we see

Over the next few years, we believe that ApiTrade Africa should focus on the following actions, namely:

  1. Improving the image of commercial beekeeping in Africa by working with honey processors and exporters to improve their quality and visibility in the target markets.
  2. Improving the capacity of intermediary organizations to start business events and trade fairs in their respective countries so as to popularize honey consumption and utilization of bee products within their own borders.
  3. Improving the capacity of our members to competitively sell honey, beeswax and other bee products in the domestic, regional and export markets
  4. Strengthening partnerships with organizations whose work positively reinforces the vision of promoting apiculture in Africa.

The greater goals of ApiTrade Africa revolve around the following themes:

  1. Africa having a common united voice on beekeeping as an industry which supports food security, environmental protection and wealth creation agenda of the continent.
  2. Africa having a strong reputation to host international business forums and command international trade in apiculture. ApiTrade Africa is willing to promote a strong bid to host an excellent Apimondia Congress in Africa, bigger than the 38th edition of Apimondia Congress which was hosted by the City of Durban, South Africa, in 2003.
  3. National Governments in all the 54 AU Member States committing a considerable budget towards not only agriculture, but also apiculture. A strong apiculture sector is a good recipe for agricultural development through pollination services
  4. Hundreds of Small and Medium Enterprises, working with thousands of small-holder beekeepers across the continent, to take the uniquely produced natural and organic bee products from Africa to the world. The markets exist locally, regionally and outside the continent.
  5. We also see the regional economic communities and all the policy structures working together to move the apiculture agenda of Africa, in the same manner we have seen it happen in the coffee sector, tea sector, dairy sector, grain sector as well as other developed agricultural value chains.

For us to realize these goals, we shall work in partnership with partners across the globe. We shall reach out to African governments and regional economic communities too. We shall engage beekeepers, researchers, honey traders at all levels and policy makers, non-governmental organizations, development partners, and all sundries, using multi-pronged approaches. Africa’s destiny is certainly in the hands of the un-sung heroes: the beekeepers!

Bosco Okello
CEO, APITRADE AFRICA

 

 
   
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