News and knowhow for farmers

Exporter buying honey from smallholders to meet UAE market demand

Honey Care Africa, the manufacturer of a variety of honey products such as nuez spread is looking for more farmers from the current 6,000 to supply it with at least 18 to 20 tonnes of the produce per month for sale to the local and the Arab market.

According to a report by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the UAE’s imports of honey reached AED 126m ($34.3m) last year, growing from AED 59m ($16.06m) in 2011 to a cumulative annual growth rate of 14 per cent.

“Honey Care Africa purchases honey from Kenyan, South Sudan and Tanzanian farmers honey at Sh240 per kilogram. We use the produce to make our valued added brands such as cinnamon, yennoh bitez, nuez bread and mint honey which is infused with natural spices and herbs which are known for their contribution in health and wellness, said Belinda Otieno, a sales officer at the company.

The company encourages farmers to come together in groups for easy collection and production.

“For farmers to supply us we would have to vet how they are organised as a group, then assess the potential available in their area of operation including suitability for scale. We would then take them through our sourcing procedures and agree on terms,” said Belinda.

After purchasing the honey a physical check is done and honey is graded according to the geographical origin as well as colour. They are then packed into the different brands; Acacia – light honey from arid and semi-arid areas, highland – dark honey from highly vegetative areas, select harvest -honey sourced from a distinct region and beekeepers – blend of acacia and highland.

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The Honey is also used in the manufacture of the company’s nut butters and snacks – crackers and honey coated peanuts. These products are sold in various supermarkets across Kenya.

Honey Care Africa was founded in 2000 as an NGO supporting smallholder beekeepers through training, equipment, links with financial institutions and ready market for honey. It has since transitioned into a social impact enterprise and is now putting more emphasis on commercialization of honey.

The company is working with about 4500 – 6,000 farmers from Kakamega, Kitale, Kapsabet, Baringo, West Pokot, Tanzania and South Sudan using aggregators to collect the produce where payment is made after delivery.

According to Belinda, the company’s mint honey is a great appetizer, palate cleanser and promotes digestion. Cinnamon and ginger on the other hand contains culturally accepted curative properties such as fighting infections and relieving digestive problems respectively. Lemon ginger contains culturally accepted properties especially relief of coughs and cold.

In Kenya, the demand is currently high with the production estimated at 7300 tonnes annually against a demand of 100,000 tonnnes according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

To bridge the supply gap, Kenya imports honey worth approximately Sh23m every year from Tanzania, Egypt and Australia according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics.

According to USAID, Ethiopia is the largest producer of honey in Africa generating 45,300 tonnes per annum. Tanzania is the second largest at 8,000 tonnes followed by Kenya, Ugandan and Rwanda at 4,000 tonnes a year.

Honey Care Africa can be reached on 0735 574448

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