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In 2014, the organization trained 40 farmers in beekeeping and equipped them with beehives and harvesting gear.

By Innocent Atuganyira

MASINDI: Bee keepers in Masindi district are seeking a ready market for their honey.

Mr. Yidri Buaza, the LC1 chairperson for the Nyantonzi Trading Center in Nyantonzi Sub County in Bujenje County, said that he got ten beehives, which generated for him two jerricans of honey in the first phase, but that he didn’t have a market for his honey.

“I had ten beehives, which generated for me two jerricans of honey in the first phase; unfortunately, it was consumed here locally at the cheapest price since I lacked a market for it,” he said.

Mr. Buaza asserted that due to the lack of market, he was forced to quit the business. ‘’Due to a lack of market for my honey, I was forced to quit, but if there is a market for the honey, I can resume beekeeping,’’ he assured.

Ms. Nyakaisiki Jane, a resident of Katikara Village in Kihonda Parish, Labongo Sub County, Buruli Constituency, said that they had a buyer from Mbarara City, but due to distance and a lack of processing machines, their business was affected.

“We had a buyer from Mbarara City, but due to distance, a lack of processing machines to help in the production of quality honey, and also a reliable market, many honey producers have been forced to quit the business,” she said.

Ms. Nyakaisiki, who has been in the honey business for three years, explains that due to a lack of market, she resorted to selling her honey locally, something she said has not allowed her to get the profits she expected.

”We had 14 members in our group, but a lack of apiculture skills and a lack of marketing, protective, and harvesting equipment has forced many beekeepers to leave the business. Now we are only seven active members,” she asserted.

Ms. Ngozebwa Sayuni, a resident of Kyamugwere Village in Labongo Parish and Labongo Sub County in Buruli Constituency, said that though she has a difficult time finding a reliable market, she has been selling her honey locally, adding that this has improved her household income.

“Though I have a challenge finding a reliable market, I have been able to sell my honey locally, and this has improved my household income and allowed me to expand my business. I started with two beehives, but now I have eight and have been able to hire two acres of land for cultivation,” she said.

Ms. Ngozebwa, who has been in the beekeeping business for a year, is asking for government intervention to provide reliable markets, honey processing machines, protective gears, and train more farmers on how to keep bees since it’s easy to start and doesn’t require much land or manpower.

Ms. Chandiru Parse, a resident of Nyantonzi Trading Centre in Nyantonzi Sub County in Bujenje Constituency, commended SafePlan Uganda for the initiative of donating beehives and training farmers on how to make local beehives, saying that this has improved her household income.

‘’I started piggery and poultry with the money I earned from the honey I sold, and the project has improved my household income. I hope if the project is extended to other areas, it will also benefit many people,’’ she said.

Mr. Akena Daniel {second from left} explaining to farmers how to reap big from beekeeping.

Mr. Akena Daniel, the Programs Manager at SafePlan Uganda, a non-government organization, said that they started by supporting farmers in beekeeping, equipping and supporting them with beehives in order to boost their household income.

‘’We started by creating a bigger source of honey by training, equipping, and supporting farmers with beehives at a very low interest rate of 20%, which can be paid back in two years. This has boosted their household income since there is demand for honey,’’ he said.

He noted that the project started in Budongo Sub County because it neighbors Budongo Forest and beekeepers can make good use of it. He added that the area is dominated by sugarcane, further adding that since most land in the area is occupied by sugarcane plantations, it has left women disadvantaged.

 ‘’As much as beekeepers are looking for a market for honey, SafePlan Uganda has been buying honey from some women in the district, and we are trying to simultaneously look for a honey market and generate enough funds to buy honey from all farmers,” Mr. Akena added.

Mr. Byaruhanga Job, the Masindi District Agricultural Officer, said that as the district, they don’t search the market for honey, but they link them to buyers. ‘’We don’t search the market for honey, but we link them to interested buyers,’’ he said.

“Currently we are doing a project with a certain non-governmental organization to get market access for beekeepers, and it has trained them, equipped them, and gotten market access for their honey,” he said.

SafePlan Uganda is currently supporting the Budongo Women Bee Enterprise (BUWOBE). In 2014, the organization trained 40 farmers in beekeeping and equipped them with beehives and harvesting gear.

Later, 300 farmers were trained in beekeeping, of whom 115 received five hives each to enable them to commence apiculture.

The project started in Budongo Sub County and was later extended to Labongo Sub County, targeting mostly women. Five kilograms of honey are sold for 100,000 shillings, and Masindi as a whole produces 15 tons of honey per year.

In Uganda, honey production potential is enormous, estimated at 500,000 metric tons per year, but this potential has not yet been fully exploited.

The Ugandan Beekeepers Association estimates that only 800-1200 metric tons of honey are produced per year due to the current lack of bee stock.

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