Beekeepers have been advised to promote pollination services for food security over other bee products.
“The primary function of bees is pollination to ensure food availability. Every flowering plant bears fruits, which is food for either humans or animals and that is what is we must market. Honey and other products are secondary,” said Dr Robert Kajobe, the director, Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
He was speaking at The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (Tunado) annual general meeting held in Kampala.
“In developing countries, bee keeping is promoted as a pro-poor income generating activity because of its accessibility, relatively low start-up costs and requires little land or labour but we should move away from that. The issue is food security; without bees for pollination, there is no food.”
Experts argue that beekeepers need to embrace initiatives that take the industry to the next level.
“Pollinators are economically, socially and culturally important. To achieve growth we aspire for, stakeholders should strengthen beekeeping for production of food, with a concomitant rise in yields of other important hive products,” said Bosco Okello, the chief executive officer, ApiTrade Africa, in a phone interview.
Dickson Biryomumaisho, the executive director, Tunado, pointed out that in 2012 annual pollination services to crops in Uganda were estimated at $547m, compared to a total crop value of $1.28b.
In the same year, the banana-coffee region in central Uganda produced coffee at an estimated $214m. Of this, 62 per cent ($149m) is attributed to pollination by bees.
Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy, the director, AU Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, added, “This calls for our policy directions with implications not just for bee keepers but for the way we view food production, the livestock and crop sectors and the environment.”
It is time to digitize beekeeping. We empower beekeepers to understand their bees better. Moving from calendar-based decisions to data-driven solutions helps optimize beekeeping operations and keep healthy bees.