Bee keepers in Masindi district, under their cooperative, Bainomugisa Integrated Development Area Cooperative Enterprise (BIDACE) are seeking government support in acquiring modern honey harvesting gear to enable them improve on the quality of their honey.
According to James Musinguzi Gabura, the Head of Production and Marketing at the cooperative, the tools they use currently are rudimentary, labour intensive and do not meet the market standards.
“We need equipment like the central feeding machine which is used to process honey from wax, an extractor or squeezer, metallic stands to support our bee hives and modern bee hives,” Musinguzi explained.
However, he says this equipment is too costly for the cooperative to afford.
“For instance a central feeding machine costs about Shs 20m. If we are struggling to afford the traditional gear, how can we afford the modern ones?” he asked.
He added that the standard equipment would enable them produce clean, high quality honey.
Despite its challenges, Charles Barongo, the Chairperson, BIDACE, says that the cooperative which started in 2010 has 750 members and produces a tonne of honey each year.
“We work with other 12 primary cooperatives in the villages of Bigando, Nyabinyira, Kyamujwara, Katasenywa, Kigezi, Kijenga, and Kinuuma in the divisions Nyangahya and Kigulya,” he noted.
He also explained that, besides the apiary business, the cooperative deals in farming of maize, beans and soybean.
“We also plant trees which act as foliage for bees and protect the environment”, he added.
Barongo says the cooperative is now capable of producing and packaging its own honey and related products.
Whereas the co-op sells its honey locally, Barongo appealed to government to connect them to bigger markets saying: “Right now we produce more honey than can be consumed locally.”
According to Lawrence Tusimeomuhangi, the Masindi Entomology Officer, who works with over 10 beekeeper groups across the district, Masindi as a whole produces 15 tonnes of honey per year.
He says the district has supported some of the farmer groups with value addition equipment such as honey processing tanks, packing jars and wax processing machines, in addition to advisory services.
“All the farmers groups I am dealing with are registered with Masindi district local government as Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and they are faring well,” he said.