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Rwanda’s apiculturists struggle to meet Europe’s demand

Rwanda beekeepers who are exporting their product to the European market are already experiencing high demand of the raw fresh…

Rwanda beekeepers who are exporting their product to the European market are already experiencing high demand of the raw fresh honey, official reports said Sunday.Rwanda honey is  unique for coming from tropical equatorial forests lush with eucalyptus  and other trees that make the bees’ product natural, making the honey  low-residual and impurity-free.

Since 2012, the European Union  gave Rwanda the go-ahead to ship the product directly due to the  country’s chemical-free beekeeping practices.

Reports from the  Government’sNational Agricultural Export Development Board, indicate t  that in the fiscal year 2019/20, Rwanda exported 3,319 kilogrammes of  honey to the EU, generating $14,035 (about Rwf13 million).

According  to the chairperson of of Rwanda Apiculture Multi-stakeholders’  Platform, Charles Musoni, beekeepers are currently struggling to sell  their products overseas and  meet domestic demand at the same time.

“We  have hard-working beekeepers across the country but our biggest  challenge right now is the limited productity,” Musoni told APA in an  interview.

According to him, Rwanda has until recently a  competitive advantage with some incentives where it was easier to  transport the produce to international markets.

“But  the prolonged drought in some parts of the country have impacted upon bees, with honey shortages,”  he said.

Concern  over the impact of changing climate on various farming activities and  on beekepers has reached the highest levels of government in Rwanda.

Although  the Government has granted  in 2018 the right to beekeepers to use  state forests for farming activities as part of strategies to boost  output and avert the shortage of honey in the country as a move to boost  productivity, honey production has continued drop from 5,000 tonnes in  2016 to 3,500 tonnes in 2017, according to statistics from the Ministry  of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

This annual production, less than a third of the national demand estimated at 17, 400 tonnes, according to officials  figures.

In  order to increase production,  stakeholders are emphasizing the  mobilisation of  farmers to apply modern bee keeping practices where  many people have been placing their beehives in their small crop fields,  which has not been productive enough.

“We hope to increase  exports bu using state-owned forests, to  do bee farming on larger areas  whereby our bees will have many trees to forage on, and the bees would  no longer be killed by pesticides,” Musoni said.

In order to  tackle the issues of low production and limited honey export, the Deputy  Director General for Animal Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda  Agriculture Board (RAB) Dr. Solange Uwituze said the mindset change for  beekeepers is important in the use of modern equipment used in  production

“Current large farms allocated by the state for  beekeepers can help them to do bee farming on larger areas whereby our  bees will have many trees to forage on, and the bees would no longer be  killed by pesticides,” she said.

Official reports indicate that  Rwanda has  more than 83,000 beekeepers  and 465,000 bee hives including  300,000 traditional hives (log hives), 75,000 langstroth hives, and  90,000 top bar hives.

However, low production is the major reason  why local bee farmers have not effectively tapped into the European  export market, agriculture experts said.

CU/APA

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