Bulletin of Animal Health and Production in Africa

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The status and future prospects of honeybee production in Africa

James Moinde


The demand for honey and other hive products in the world market is high compared to the current production. Honey and beeswax production in Africa is estimated to be less than 10 and25 per cent of the potential respectively. The beekeeping sector in Africa is extremely fragmented therefore the actual production and growth levels are difficult to quantify accurately. The actual production is mainly carried at the rural household as part –time income generating activity and food. The production systems and type of hives used vary from fixed comb hives such as bark or log hives to improved movable frame or top bar hives. The introduction of modern technologies and the improvement of the existing indigenous knowledge in beekeeping industry have shown major development in various aspects and beekeeping is now an important component of the Agricultural sector in various countries. However the effective use of these improved production methods is very limited. The current share of production is characterized by low productivity and low quality. The institutional support infrastructure for promoting beekeeping as in economic activity and providing technical and financial services is generally weak and unstructured The promotion and development of apiculture as a commercial enterprise and the increases in the output of hive products in Africa would require that the agricultural sector policies of most African governments address the uniqueness of the bee industry. Effective use of improved methods of production
would contribute to enhanced household food security; increased incomes, and environmental conservation. There are many opportunities for increasing the output of hive products and improving production efficiency and quality. The beekeeping industry provides opportunities to various stakeholders, among them are comparatively low capital investment, no pressure on human settlement and agricultural land, pollination, job creation, high demand for hive products in domestic and export markets, large unexploited natural vegetation and production of organic honey. It does not need sophisticated infrastructure or compete for resources with other agricultural activities. There is need to cultivate for business oriented
and well focused approach that will ensure viable beekeeping industry through public-private partnerships. In order to exploit these opportunities, there are technical, financial and administrative constraints that require urgent attention. Development strategies for African apiculture should aim in the first instance at
improving the existing technology and progress gradually towards the advanced technologies. The use of transitional steps to improvement would increase output over traditional systems and also be financially beneficial as input costs remain relatively low. Other constraints include inadequate technically trained and
committed extension personnel, insufficient research, low adoption of improved technologies, ineffective control of pests and diseases among others. Most African hive products are consumed or used locally but there is a broad range of marketing opportunities for honey and other hive products. In particular, African honey can supply niche markets such as for organic products and value added products. However because of poor market access, poor infrastructure and inadequate products of sufficient quality and quantity and lack of strong organizations representing the interests of beekeepers, market opportunities are not fully

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