Zambian honey producers break into EU market

Zambian producers will in future be able to export to one of the largest honey consumer markets in the world – the European Union. The development is expected to propel the nation’s annual production from the current 2 000 metric tonnes to 10 000.

“This shows the great potential honey production has for creating jobs and the generation of foreign exchange income,” said Patrick Chisanga, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Director-General.

Zambia has an estimated 30,000 smallholder beekeepers, concentrated mainly in North Western, Western, Central and the Copperbelt provinces.

“Zambia’s has the potential to earn more than US$15 million annually but we need to invest more in research and technology – this market offers great opportunities for small-scale beekeepers,” he said.

The EU, with established food and safety regulations that are very tough, is the largest global consumer of honey, accounting for more than 20% of the total global consumption. The consumption is expected to remain high giving opportunities for developing countries like Zambia. China, the US and Turkey are the other major global honey consumers.

Chisanga noted that being permitted to export into the EU market demonstrates the huge strides Zambia had made in improving the honey production sector. He said that the new market in the EU calls for the scaling up of production yields.

“Fortunately, honey production does not require high-tech expertise, but it is a very labour-intensive process. Consequently, the price of honey depends largely on labour costs and the productivity of the beekeepers.”

According to industry experts, Europe has in the last few years been experiencing a decrease in the bee colonies arising from bee diseases and intensive use of chemicals in agriculture.

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