Ugandan honey might be sweet, but the story surrounding the failure to export it to European markets only evokes bitterness.
For more than nine years, the European Union has left an open invitation for Uganda to export honey. That opportunity, however, continues to go begging, with the country failing to harvest honey worth the journey.
At a workshop for traders in honey last week, Felix Kazahura, an advisor to SNV, explained that Uganda’s failure to tap the more lucrative market was down to all the produce being consumed locally and in neighbouring countries.
The West Nile sub-region alone is supposed to produce 600 tonnes but only supplies 120 tonnes. These low amounts, Kazahura said, makes it hard for investors to set up equipment in the country to process the honey.
However, Mr Jackson Jurua, the chairman of Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO), said the demand for honey around the region was high, making it difficult to satisfy the European market. He added that the prices around the region were better than what the EU offers.
Jurua also said traders faced the challenge of exporting to the EU because of the issue of quality, and the requirement to supply regularly, both conditions they cannot meet.
Osman Mwebe, a beekeeper from Masaka, who also attended the workshop, said some of the beekeepers were not aware that the quality of the honey taken to EU markets must meet international standards.
“Some of the farmers are not aware that there is a standard for the honey they produce, and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is not helping them,” he said.