The government, through the National Animal genetic resources center and Databank (NAGRC&DB), is setting up a honey-processing plant in the Aswa region, following increased demand for bee products in neighboring South Sudan and DR Congo as well as Gulf states.
According to the ministry of agriculture, the “mega honey-processing plant” will be completed “later this year”. The apiary enterprise is aimed at encouraging people in the area to engage in bee-keeping for improved livelihoods.
“Therefore, NAGRC&DB is setting up the Shs2 billion project to create wealth for Ugandans through practical skilling in business enterprise development. As a measure of preparation, aspiring apiary farmers from all over the country are already being trained at the ranch in different aspects of bee-keeping,” the ministry said in a news release.
“This is being implemented in collaboration with Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).”
Esther Nakajubi, the head of non-ruminants in NAGRC&DB, says apiculture fits well with Aswa ranch due to the presence of the shea tree that acts as good forage for bee-keeping. Given that apiculture is also one of the environmentally-friendly poverty eradication programs, farmers in the region Nakajubi is convinced farmers will seamlessly tap into its benefits.
“Our team of highly-trained personnel is skillfully managing this bee enterprise and training farmers,” she says. “We have also realized that the Aswa ranch environment favours mainly the common African bee.”
Already at the site are more than 1,000 Kenya Top Bar (KTB) and Longstroth beehives that have been colonized. Nakajubi further reasons that the project presents a huge commercial opportunity for farmers due to the several products harvested such as shea honey [produced with nectar from shea trees].
“That honey is harvested twice a year between March to June and August to October and it sold to clinics for medicinal applications such as treatment of sore throats and by HIV/Aids sufferers who take it to treat opportunistic infections,” she says.
“Also, bee propolis and venom are produced for treatment of various diseases.”