Source : Daily Monitor – The African Development (ADB) has pledged a $5 million (about Shs9 billion) grant and $4 million (Shs7.9 billion) loan to honey producers in the country to boost their production capacity.
ADB Country Operations Officer, Mr Benedict S.Kanu, announced the development during his visit to Uganda Honey Bee Keepers Association’s (UHA) refineries at Nalukolongo, Industrial Area on December 22.
Kanu’s visit was a follow up to a private sector financing proposal, which UHA submitted recently to ADB for assistance to boost its production.
The UHA’s refinery currently has a capacity of 988 metric tonnes per annum.
Kanu who took a thorough tour of the refinery advised UHA management on ways and means of improving their financial proposal to make it more attractive to other potential financiers.
“For us we have already expressed our interest in your activities and set to honour your proposal but revise it (proposal) so that you make it more attractive to other financiers,” he said.
Both partners privately discussed the eligibility factors that are normally taken into account in availing the ADB’s assistance to private sector, the different types of financial instruments available, application procedures and appraisal criteria among other issues.
UHA Secretary General Mr Christopher Karamagi said the government of recent recognised the beekeeping industry because of its being an important, sustainable, integral agricultural activity, but the sub-sector still remains grossly unexploited.
“As of now, we relatively get limited domestic or foreign donor funding to have the industry running yet it has huge potentials to alleviate rural poverty sustainable, due to the significant economic importance of honey and its various by-products,” he said.
Honey has a variety of recognised and clinically proven medicinal properties. Disease including diarrhea, coughs, measles, sore throats, and burns/scalds among others have and continue to be widely treated either by the application of honey alone or honey-based mixtures.
However, the national honey production in the country is, by and large ,still at or below the subsistence level,and domestic consumption is generally limited to usage of honey and its products as a ‘natural’ medicine.
Karamagi said due to the low production of honey in the country, UHA buys only good quality honey at a maximum price of Shs1,500 per kg.
He pointed out that there was still insatiable demand of honey and its products in both domestic and foreign market with an average shortfall estimated at between 700,000 and 800,000 metric tonnes per annum worldwide.
“We have already got some orders from Norway which needs 300 metric tonnes, Germany (1,000 metric tonnes) and Kenya (40 metric tonnes) but we are still constrained by the limited working capital,” he said.
Karamagi said if they acquire the ADB boost they would manage to produce 1,000 metric tonnes annually.
China, which is the world’s leading honey producer and exporter, recently had its products were banned from European Union market following the discovery of certain prohibited elements in their products. In the face of this, the shortfall in the world’s honey market is briskly predicted to grow very sharply as the years go by.
Karamagi urged the government and other development partners to invest meaningfully in the industry as a move to fight poverty among the rural poor.