The African Regional Apimondia Symposium, held in Durban, South Africa, saw the country’s agriculture, land reform, and rural development minister, Thoko Didiza, stressing the importance of beekeeping and honey processing in the continent.
Didiza acknowledged that the industry, if given the necessary support, could transform the livelihoods of rural communities and assist in growing the rural economies.
“We want to urge that as scientists share their scientific papers, we should harness such knowledge and ensure that we make use of such knowledge to diversify opportunities in the Beekeeping sector,” she said.
The minister went on to call for the beekeeping and honey processing industry to be included in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area initiative, committing South Africa’s department of agriculture, land reform, and rural development to address the challenges currently experienced regarding the irradiation of honey.
The minister emphasised that sanitary and phytosanitary compliance was essential to unlock trade amongst African countries, and that as trade continues, issues around quarantine diseases control, food safety, and quality must be taken into consideration. She called on the scientific community and governments to put up interventions to confront disease control and honey adulteration challenges.
Didiza noted that in South Africa, almost all provinces participate in beekeeping, but some require more assistance to be on par. She urged the symposium to generate resolutions that would change the state of beekeeping in the continent for the better.
The minister also stressed the importance of investing in beekeeping and honey production, highlighting the many benefits that come with it, including living a healthy lifestyle, producing cosmetic products, pollination business, medicinal use, and food security.
In South Africa, the regulatory services offered through legislation that regulates the importation of honey and honey products, covering disease control, grading, labelling, and packaging, mean that the country is ready to trade with any country that is ready to trade with them.
Didiza mentioned the Pafuri project, where 167 beehives were manufactured manually and given to about 60 young people in the Vhembe district of Limpopo in the Pafuri area to fight poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity.
She concluded by stating that the beekeeping sector in many African states is still traditional and that they need to move it to the next level.
Didiza acknowledged the challenges faced by resource-poor beekeepers who cannot afford to buy beehives and apiary equipment, set up processing plants, and receive specific funding for beekeeping. However, South Africa is supporting research in bees and apiculture, offering training at a subsidised cost of R4 500 per person through the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).