The decision by South Africa to stop buying natural honey from Malawi and Zambia has affected 2 000 famers in the country who were exporting the product through informal channels.
William Peter Mwale, director of National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Nasme), said in an interview the decision by the South Africa to stop importing natural honey will affect farmers in the country.
Said Mwale: “South Africa recently stopped buying natural honey from Malawi and Zambia and this has hurt our local farmers.
“The reason being given is that honey from Zambia and Malawi [is not good enough]. Our counterparts in Zambia have formally complained about this because it is one example of trade barriers and hopefully something will be done soon. Even though the honey was being exported informally our farmers were earning a living.”
Natural honey is the most sought after product in the world due to its rich ingredients similar to those found in fruits, which become alkaline in the digestive system and is very marketable throughout the world.
A study by Global Industry Analysts Inc predicts that honey production globally will reach 1.9 million tonnes by 2015 due to growing demand.
However, the apiculture sector in Malawi, like the rest of Africa, is beset by the same challenges that agriculture faces including climate change, poor infrastructure inhibiting access to markets and declining interest in farming among the younger generation.
“Our farmers in Chitipa and Rumphi are better off because they are exporting their natural honey to Tanzania, though informally, but those from Nkhata Bay, Mchinji, and Dzalanyama in Lilongwe are the ones who have been heavily impacted by the ban.
“In Mulanje, farmers are also fortunate because government connected them to markets in Japan,” notes Mwale.
He, however, said they are working with the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) to help farmers package their products for international markets.
The farmers will also be given standard codes for easy export of the honey and other related products.
MBS certification manager, Wanangwa Sindani, confirmed that they are working with several farmers on certification of honey.