ABOUT 200 honey producers have been mentored in four areas, courtesy of a partnership between the Micro Finance Unit (MFU) and Small Enterprises Development Company (SEDCO).
Swaziland Honey Council (SHC) Chairman Mandla Langwenya said SEDCO and the MFU initiated a partnership under the ‘One Household One Product’ initiative.
He said bee farmers were identified for a training and mentorship programme on honey production in four tinkhundla centres in the Shiselweni region, these being Gege, Maseyisini, Shiselweni II and Zombodze.
“A total of 200 honey producers were reached and mentored during this initiative. SHC is an apex body established in 2007 with the aim of coordinating activities concerned with the production of honey and related products in Swaziland following a study that revealed the honey industry was not coordinated.
“The objectives of the honey council at establishment included the facilitation of training, access to and coordination of markets, as well as securing funding for coordination of the production and marketing of honey and honey products,” he said.
Langwenya said SHC provided an umbrella forum for all stakeholders in the Swaziland bee-keeping industry for the promotion, coordination and safeguarding of their activities and interests. He said the council also purported to promote and facilitate growth as well as expansion in the Swaziland bee sector to contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and environmental conservation.
Langwenya said in the process, the honey council would lobby (on behalf of members) national and international governments for favourable policies and accompanying measures to support growth and expansion in the Swaziland bee-keeping sector, as well as favourable trade terms for Swaziland honey products.
He said the programme began mid-year whereupon the honey flow season was almost at its finality, adding that a mentorship programme followed thereafter extending until mid 2013.
“All trained and mentored honeybee farmers were each given a Swazi top bar hive and catch box as part of the training. Some groups were also provided with a total of 65 Langstroth catch boxes to experience migratory bee-keeping.
“The beekeepers still require additional assistance though in order to get the Langstroth hives to where there is enough bee flora to allow the bees to make honey year round. We undertook regional visits as well in collaboration with TechnoServe to honeybee farmers in order to sensitise them on the important role honey producers play as well as their participation in the council leadership,” he said.
Langwenya said this initiative led to the establishment of a new council executive committee. Adding, he said there was an advisory body which provided the technical know-how to all problems and needs of the honeybee farmers, as well as interpret all legislation related to honeybee farming and production throughout the entire honey value chain.
He said currently, TechnoServe served as the secretariat of the council, however, adding that there was need to replace the organisation and have in place a proper full time secretariat in order to attain long term sustainability of the council.
Langwenya said this was because TechnoServe was donor funded and time constrained to focus on the entire council workload for an extended period of time.
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