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Bee Farmers In Karamoja Decry Lack Of Market For Their Products

Bee farmers in the Karamoja sub-region are struggling to find a good market for their honey. The beekeepers collect the honey using traditional beehives and sell it individually to the communities in town or hawk it in weekly markets around.

Simon Lokoru, a bee farmer in Katikekile sub-county in Moroto district, says that he decided to venture into beekeeping because the activity requires low investment since the requirements are just bee hives and a few simple tools for harvesting. Lokoru revealed that he started a bee farming project with only seven locally made bee hives but now has 15 where he harvests between 10 to 15 liters of processed honey.

He says that although bee farming works best for him since it is the only source of income he relies on but he lacks a market for the products. According to Lokoru, five liters of processed honey costs 100,000 and 40,000 for the unprocessed honey, which he says affected his profit margin.

Lokoru says that a five liters Jerrican processed honey could cost up to 150,000 Shillings but because there is no market, they are forced to sell it cheaply. Robert Lomer, another Bee farmer told URN that they are being cheated by the buyers in town who claim the honey is not properly processed

Lomer added that since they lack machines for processing the honey, they use their own local methods, which compromises its quality. He appealed to the government to provide them with honey processing equipment like smokers, boots, and gloves among others, and train them on how to manage bee farming for better production.

Dr. Francis Inangolet Olaki, the Moroto District Production Officer confirmed beekeeping as one of the best enterprises that could uproot Karamojong communities out of poverty. According to Olaki, the use of inefficient beehives coupled with a lack of knowledge on processing and handling to produce quality honey is still the main obstacle to farmers.

Olaki says they are working hard as a district to see how best they can help the bee farmers improve their products and to ensure it fits the market standards. He stresses that adding value to honey is the missing aspect of letting farmers down, adding that the introduction of the Parish development model will help to address the challenge.

Olaki encouraged farmers to form groups and be organized so that it is easy to support them where necessary.

Joseph Lobot, the LC V Chairperson of Amudat district says in order to boost honey production, they have enhanced farmers to be in associations so that they are able to have bargaining powers when selling their products. Lobot observed that the farmers were selling only honey and they never bothered with its by-products like wax which could have earned them more money.

‘’The bee farming project is very good and it supported most of the households especially during the hunger crisis because many could sell to buy food for their families,” he said.

Lobot also revealed that the district has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Gold bee firm where farmers will be supplying their products after processing. He said the processing plant has already been constructed at the district headquarters, only waiting for the farmers to establish their groups so that they can start running the project.

About 2000 farmers have ventured into beekeeping in Amudat and Moroto districts after discovering profits from the project. However, the production is still at a smallholder stage.

-URN

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