A delegation from the North West agriculture department visited their Tanzanian counterparts for a five-day bench-marking trip on beekeeping with a focus on discussing strategies to develop and improve the beekeeping sector.
Led by the head of the department Thupi Mokhatla, team North West met and held a marathon of meetings with the Tanzanian ministry of natural resources and tourism, forestry and beekeeping division director, Deusdedit Bwoyo, and officials from the Tanzanian Forestry Research Institute.
Bwoyo said Tanzania was producing 32 000 tons of honey per year and they were willing to share some of their knowledge and insights with South Africa.
“The national beekeeping policy developed in 1998 aims to enhance the contribution of the beekeeping sector to the sustainable development of Tanzania and conservation and management of its natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
“We are currently in the process of developing strategies to increase production of honey and its products in the country,” he said.
Safeguarding natural resources
According to the Tanzanian officials, beekeeping production in their regions has been reserves where beekeepers can keep their hives at a fee.
The Tanzanian government said to ensure the sustainability of the industry, the law prohibited cutting down trees within the reserved areas, and surrounding areas benefit from increased protection.
To enforce the preservation of its forestry and bee reserves, the country developed a policy that safeguards the protection of its natural and indigenous resources.
Despite transitional beekeeping methods, Tanzania remains the second biggest producer of honey in Africa, and the government maintains the support and development of bee farmers through various grants and funding methods.
Improving local beekeeping
Mokhatla said the trip was successful and there was a greater need to foster collaboration between the two countries to expose beekeepers from each country to the dynamics and opportunities in beekeeping.
“We have identified a number of areas where we can collaborate through trade, training, research, and policy development to support our beekeepers in the North West province.
“It is important for both countries to maximise the beekeeping value chain and ensure that we have a competitive advantage in Africa and the world,” said Mokhatla.
The government of Tanzania has also established a beekeeping training institute that offers a certificate and diploma in beekeeping as part of their vision of commercialising beekeeping, enhancing skills development that encourages beekeeping as not only a profession but a business that can contribute to household income and address poverty and unemployment.
The two beekeepers from North West who were part of the delegation contributed to the discussions and shared beekeeping methods practised in the province and South Africa at large.
Chairperson of the North West beekeepers association Kenalemang Mooketsi said the trip was a success and they have learned a lot of new ways of doing things that they would implement back home.
“This was an eye-opening exercise as we have realised that collaboration can take programmes to greater heights. We have also learned that through commitment, North West can become the hub of honey production in the future and this can be done in partnership with our department.
“As beekeepers in the province, we would like to extend our gratitude to the department for this excursion, we are so thankful for the support the department is offering beekeepers and will share what we have learned in Tanzania with other bee farmers,” said Mooketsi.
Sign up for Mzansi Today: Your daily take on the news and happenings from the agriculture value chain.