Honey producers shun EU over stringent conditions

Honey is being packed for sale. Photo by Rachel Mabala

What you need to know:

Experts say honey production potential is 500,000 metric tonnes annually yet only 1 per cent of the country’s production potential is produced.

Ugandan honey producers have shunned the European market opportunity and opted for the local market which they describe as ‘less stringent.’

It has been about nine years since the European Union listed Uganda among other countries that would export honey to this region but little or no consignment has been flagged off.
Following the listing, Uganda was given an opportunity to export 200 tonnes of honey annually but this volume has never been realised despite being verified in numerous tests and certification procedures done countrywide and verified in German.

Experts say this opportunity if utilised, would have promoted Uganda as one of the producers of organic honey.

In an interview with Prosper magazine, ApiExpo Coordinator Bosco Okello said: “We have no problem in regard to complying with the European regulations but our challenge is raising the volume for this market.”

Local market
He said what is produced is consumed locally and the prices are better than what the EU is offering.

At the local market, a kilogramme of processed honey goes for between Shs8,000 and Shs15,000, yet the same quantity sold on the EU market goes for between $1.5-$2.5 (Shs4,500 and Shs6, 000).
He said: “Many times the logistics which include the costly freight charges, documentations involved –health certificates and the requirements by the different buyers make exporting to the EU cumbersome.”

Mr George Mugula, a local processor under the trade name Bee house, agrees that the stringent conditions discouraged him to exploit the EU market.

“As a small processor, it’s very expensive for me to venture into the EU market because of the requirements yet the local demand is high,” Mr Mugula said.

His company processes two to three tonnes of honey every month and distributes to Kikuubo trading centre and in supermarkets.
Currently, the apiculture sector provides income to more than one million Ugandans according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2010; the majority being the rural elderly.

However, experts say Uganda’s honey production potential is 500,000 metric tonnes annually yet only 1 per cent of this potential is produced.