By William Milasi
Underfunding, lack of open lines of credit and general neglect from the parent ministry is hampering the growth of bee farming in the country.
According to bee farmers the sector given an enabling environment has potential to grow.
Government has been pouring millions in other sectors and bee farmers are feeling left out.
“The sector is heavily underfunded,” Kwekwe Bee Farmers Association Chairman Gregory Mazingaizo said in an interview.
With an estimated 120 farmers in Kwekwe, Mazingaizo said given an enabling environment the sector has potential for growth.
“If an enabling environment is created the sector has full potential for growth. We feel that the government can do more to support the sector,” he said.
Mazingaizo said honey production has the potential to unlock the much needed foreign currency in the country.
“I believe government must look at honey production as a lucrative venture. If fully funded the sector has potential to generate the much needed foreign currency,” Mazingaizo said.
Beekeeping is fast becoming a lucrative business which is capitalising on the high domestic demand for honey as food and for medicinal purposes.
According to Mazingaizo if fully exploited bee farming is ideal during this period when they are unpredictable weather patterns.
“During these periods of unpredictable weather patterns bee framing is a very good fall back plan as it is not affected by adverse weather conditions,” he said.
He added, “We have a great untapped resource in bees.
“In order to capitalize on the resource we organized ourselves as farmers to have a body that will represent us at a higher level.’
The association Mazingaizo said has a potential for growth as it currently have 1800 bee hives.
“As an association we have 1800 hives in Kwekwe District,” he said.
The chairperson added that they are envisaging establishing a factory in Kwekwe.
“We have a vision to build a factory and a laboratory. To have a factory we need 5000 colonised hives,’ he said.
He added that there is a ready market as honey is a major foreign currency earner.
Speaking on government support he said, “The then environment minister Oppah Muchinguri in 201 7 gave us ten hives and we gave them to women in our association
“The Forestry Commission gave us planks,” he said
He bemoaned lack of support from the banks.
“The banks are not supportive they are used to fund the traditional businesses.They are not looking at the strength of the business the banking sector must liberalise laws.
“The project doesn’t suffer from adverse weather conditions.
“Bees are there to balance the ecosystem,’ he said.
If effectively managed beekeeping plays an instrumental part in protecting forests.
According to Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), trees outside forests contribute to food security through provision of forest foods and incomes and protection of soils and water resources.