Business News of Mon, 17 Jul 20173

US$2bn honey market eludes beekeepers

With healthy living campaigners advocating it as a healthier replacement for sugar, global demand for honey is on the rise, but lack of investment has kept gains out of the reach of Ghana's beekeepers.

The industry's value, globally, was estimated at US$2.2billion in 2016, up by an average 27.1percent for all exporting countries since 2012, when natural honey shipments were valued at US$1.8 billion.

Whilst a lot of multinationals use honey to make cosmetic products such as skin care lotions, soaps, and lip balms, a lot health conscious people are replacing sugar with honey in their tea and other meals.

The Ghana Beekeepers Association (GBA) says it has the solution to how Ghana can profitably tap into the multibillion dollar honey industry, whilst creating jobs for thousands of its desperate youth.

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With high sugar intake associated with heart conditions, obesity, and diabetes, which kill thousands every year, honey could become a healthier alternative, to help reduce patient-doctor visits borne out of sugar-related conditions.

The Ghana Beekeepers Association pegs the cost of one beehive, other inputs and training at GH¢750, and that it is ready and willing to train 200 beekeepers per each district and provide them with 50 hives and inputs to start with.

This brings the total to 43,200 jobs across the country in the first year, at a cost of GH¢37,500 per person. With this initial investment, a beekeeper needs no other investment from any quarter. He or she can decide to stick to 50hives and inputs or reinvest profits made.

Output and returns of almost GH¢2bn per annum

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An industry voice

Oscar Nartey-Adjabeng, the Executive Secretary of the GBA, told the B&FT that Ghana’s environment and climate is one of the most suitable for beekeeping.

"There are a lot of acacia, eucalyptus, mangoes, orange, oil palm and even banana and plantain. All these are flowers and crops that these bees feed on.

We have the type of bees that are suitable to this climate and are disease resistant. Our kinds of apis mellifera, a type of bee, are more resistant to the known bee diseases," he said.

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Global industry data

Data from WorldsTopExports.com, a platform that tracks exports, indicates that global sales from natural honey exports totalled US$2.2 billion in 2016.

Among continents, European countries accounted for the highest dollar value worth of natural honey exports during 2016, with shipments amounting to US$825.3 million or 36.8percent of international honey sales.

That percentage compares with 23.5percent from Asian exporters, 14.5percent from Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean, 10.6percent from Oceania (mostly New Zealand trailed by Australia) and 7.8percent from North America. African countries furnished a respectable 6.8percent of exported natural honey.

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"If we produce massively and meet local demand, then we can go international and earn foreign exchange for the economy," Mr. Nartey-Adjabeng said.

Already, a local beverage manufacturing company, Kasapreko, is helping local producers find a ready market, with the recent introduction of the Kasapreko Honey Bee Drink. The company sources about 4,000kg per month of honey from the local market to produce the drink.

"Kasapreko's Honey Bee Drink is one good step in the promotion of the local industry. With Kasapreko buying 4tonnes of honey per month, it must help the existing beekeepers to meet the target so that machines should not lie idle," Oscar Nartey-Adjabeng said.

"We encourage Kasapreko to continue in that line and other companies should come on board and produce more honey related products so that farmers can be well paid," he added.

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