“Youths should form groups to market hive products because the long-term observation is that the industry is getting organised,” said Tania Haidara, the country director, Swisscontact Uganda. “You must take aantage of the available structures.”
She was speaking during in the youth forum during the recent National Honey Week conference and exhibition, which was held in Kampala.
Organised by The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (Tunado), the forum focused on commercialising beekeeping for youth and women entreprises. It also covered how best the apiculture industry can be improved.
Ms Haidara said beekeeping could potentially be the richest industry in the country but the practitioners are the poorest.
This is simply because they do not want to work in groups. It requires little capital to start a beekeeping venture but it needs collective marketing of the products.
“While it is important to discuss the harvest and post-harvest handling of honey and other bee products, we must focus on the business side. We are saying get practical do not just give it lip service, form groups and you will be supported. You should be business-oriented,” she added.
“Before you even talk about exporting, first realise that we have to do a lot for the internal market by increasing volumes. Individually, you can never be able to raise enough to satisfy the available market but as a group you can do better.”
There are a number of the factors that were identified as hindering young people from practising beekeeping on a commercial scale, despite their lack of employment.
No clear statistics
These include the following: The limited access to information on beekeeping, lack of role models to stimulate inspiration among the youths, bureaucracy involved in honey marketing especially in the export marketing, and the absence of a policy on beekeeping.
“We need more extension staff at the sub-county and district levels plus consistent research information on beekeeping. The challenge is that there is no clear statistics about the industry,” noted Patrick Ayebazibwe of Hives Save Lives Africa.
However, according to Robert Okodia, the managing director, Aryodi Bee Farm, the government has not yet made beekeeping a priority sector but “that does not stop young people from getting organised and involved in the lucrative industry. A policy is just a paper that with or without it people should continue earning from the trade.”
Become a priority
While unemployment is high among the youth, beekeeping in Uganda is dominated by older people who consider it as a side business. Thus, they attach a low economic value to it hence the subsistence production
In conclusion, Haidara stated: “The good side is that there is untapped market as well as increasing private sector investment and access to technical skills. Eventually, we believe it will be a priority sector for the government. We would like a situation where beekeeping can offer a solution to the high youth unemployment in Uganda.”
Certified for training of trainers
Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (Tunado)ertified a team of 25 as national trainers of trainers in beekeeping and other related practices.
This was after a week-long training at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo.
Practicing beekeepers from different regions of Uganda underwent a competence-based course the focus was on increasing relevance and harmonising the nature of beekeeping trainings offered across the country and enhancing equity in the sector.
Alice Kangave, principal entomologist, ministry of Agriculture, observed that most beekeepers are carrying out trainings but not in a structured way. This means that the dissemination of information depends what they know but not how it is supposed to be.
Know their roles
Ms Kangave said, “A study found out that trainers teach what they think but not what they ought to be training. Most trainings are unstructured. For instance, you find in one training, the beginners are taught how to harvest, identify pests and make bee suits before they know the basics of apiary management. That’s more like explaining rocket science to a Primary Two pupil.”
She added, “Most beekeepers are experienced in the practice but need to know their roles and responsibilities. We must synchronise our thinking as a sector and that’s when we shall be resourceful to society. We now have a simplified (beekeeping) training manual. We want to use it to deliver the same information in a structured manner.”
Same message, same way
A recent Tunado study found that there are various unstructured, uncoordinated apiculture trainings mostly done by ‘long-time’ beekeepers. But they are not necessarily qualified, despite the availability of literature such as the beekeepers manual, which was published by the ministry about two years ago.
“The biggest confusion is for people to think they know everything and can train everything and deliver in a single day. That’s a lie,” noted Doreen Kwiringira, a national trainer of trainers and proprietor, Kisoro Pure Honey.
“We need to deliver the same message in the same way. This training is especially emphasising output hence the competence-based education and training approach.”
The course was a precursor to the National Honey Week, which was held in late August in Kampala.