By Silence and Edward Makuzva.

Harare, Zimbabwe. (News of The South) –
There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years left to live.”  This might be true considering the significance that bees have in our lives. Bees are essential for human life on this planet and all bees are pollinators and pollinators are essential for crops.

Research has shown that 84% of crops grown for human consumption today rely on bees and a select few other insects to pollinate them to increase their yields and quality- that is an absolutely amount of food that depends on the existence of bees.

To help protect bees and preserve our own way of life, it is very significant to educate ourselves, one another on the importance of bees and the need to embark on beekeeping projects to widen beekeeping industry which is quite small and also to increase quality yields.

According to South Africa based economist Alexander Moyo, beekeeping is key to economic revival but there is need for proper mapping and market analysis.  “For beekeeping to be successful there is need to conduct a mapping of existing bee farmers in the area or other smallholders who have the ability and interest in taking on another ‘crop,’ and then devise a strategy to reach out to these farmers and market their own services to bring them into the business,” he said.   

Added Moyo; “Understanding your consumer is central to a solid marketing and branding plan. This laser focus on a key demographic market could benefit company as well, as long as it is based upon empirical information and strategic thinking”.

The bees provide important natural products and services. The bees pollinate flowers and therefore play an important part in food production. Most plants are totally dependent on certain types of bees for production. It is also for this reason that commercial pollination has began to take shape in the larger agricultural industry.

Of all the bee species, the honeybee is the most economically valuable as it is able to focus on particular plants at a time. Honey is a valuable economic commodity and is used for medicinal purposes. For thousands of years, honey has been used by man for food. It is estimated that about 100g of honey provides equivalent nutrition to 6 litres of milk or 170g of beef. It contains sugars, vitamins and minerals that are absorbed by the board.

Stan Chaunza, a veteran beekeeper from Mutoko believes a marriage of mission driven passion, technical knowledge, and business skills will make Beekeeping extend its reach and increase its sustainability in Zimbabwe in the coming years.

Communities in Zimbabwe recognized the value of beekeeping mostly due to the benefits of the bee products. Some of the bee products include honey which has been widely used as food and traditional medicines. Honey is naturally rich in micro-nutrients and a good source of energy. Further research has proved that propolis is a natural antibiotic and antimycotic. Propolis can be used to boost the immune system.

Honey used to be harvested from the wild before the communities realized the need to domesticate the bees through the use of traditional hives such as bark hives and clay pots. A lot of people know very little about the impact of bees on the natural and human environment. Consequently the beekeeping industry is very small.

Peter Sithole, a pharmacist based in Harare has this to say: “Medically, honey can be used as a sedative, laxative or antiseptic. Other health benefits of bees include preventing cancer, reducing ulcers, increasing athletic performance, healing wounds and strengthening the immune system”.

According to a February 2016 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), bees which provide honey, propolis, Queen Jelly and beeswax among other products, help boost food security for some two billion smallholder farmers at no cost. The FAO has called for the protection of bees and insects that play a vital role of pollination thereby sustainably increasing food supply.

Recently, Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministry founder Prophet Walter Magaya told multitudes of people who came to witness the Night of Turnaround 6 that he is going to embark on beekeeping projects that will see many lives of people being transformed.

The Man of God who is known for initiating income generating projects not only for his followers but for the country at large has been applauded for such gestures by both economists and congregants for his efforts to revive the economy and ‘taking care of the poor and vulnerable’. Magaya’s beekeeping project will train new bee farmers and providing them with entrepreneurial skills.

“It is quite commendable for Magaya to embark on projects like beekeeping given the importance of bees in agricultural sense and honey in health and economic sense. It is a blessing to have economic entrepreneurs like him who can help revive the economy”, he said.

Zimbabwe is aiming to raise honey production to a target of 500,000 litres by 2018, according to Zim-Asset, a national strategy that seeks to revive the country’s comatose economy. Figures from the national statistical agency Zimstats and Agritex show that Zimbabwe produces over 427,000 kg of honey annually against a local demand of 447,000.

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