Honey could be sweetener for black farmers

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

Bee Foundation, one of Africa's leading bee-keeper organisations, is planning to accelerate the production of honey in the country to meet national and international demand.

Loriam Ngcobo, director of public relations at Bee Foundation, said they planned to support local farmers by building multimillion- rand processing plants for bee farmers in Limpopo.

"We want to produce honey locally as a long-term project. We also want production to include as many local farmers as possible," said Ngcobo.

More than 500 bee farmers - or apiarists - in the Vhembe district are expected to harvest honey in August.

Ngcobo said demand for honey had grown substantially since imports from China had been banned by the international market.

"And South Africa can also be one of the suppliers if more resources were made available, if there was more investment in bee farming.

"Our honey is of the highest quality. We hope that our producers will contribute to the economy and help create more jobs," said Ngcobo.

He said farmers had lost about 4000 hives in Mpumalanga and KwaZuluNatal due to fire and theft.

"South Africans consume 3000 tons of honey a year. We need to invest more money in the industry so that bee farming can compete," he said.

Ngcobo believes South Africa has the potential to produce 100000 tons of honey a year, "but besides money it requires us to protect the environment".