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Bermi beekeeping group reveals ambitions for their honey processing centre

19 October 2017

Bermi beekeeping group reveals ambitions for their honey processing centre

Honey harvesting and processing is a sticky business, but with the help of Farm Africa, the Bermi village honey processing group’s ambitions of reaching a more lucrative customer base are edging closer.

Beekeeper and honey processing centre manager Lucia Chami, 46, from Bermi in the Babati Lucia Chami, manager of the Bermi honey processing groupDistrict of Tanzania, has revealed ambitious plans to invest in the village's honey production business to reach a wider market.

Farm Africa’s Big Beehive Build is back with a buzz, currently building 120 new beehives that will be given to local beekeepers, including Lucia, who has big plans for her new beehives: “I will receive more hives from the Big Beehive Build, which will enable me to increase my income further.”

Ever the entrepreneur, Lucia plans to invest the money earnt from the sale of honey from the new hives in improvements to the honey processing centre, which will enable the group to apply for certification of the honey, the key to securing a more profitable customer base. 

“I will use the income to improve the honey processing centre so we can reach wider markets. I hope we will be able to sell honey outside the country. Our market is good now, but once we improve and get our seal we will be able to sell our products to big supermarkets in Arusha, Karatu, Mbulu and other big tourist centres.”

Planned improvements involve the construction of separate rooms for the honey extraction, packaging and marketing, as required to acquire official certification of the honey. 

Since being given Langstroth beehives by Farm Africa, Lucia has kept bees herself, as well as Bermi honeybuying honey from other beekeepers in the village, which she processes, packages and markets.

She told us: “It was Farm Africa who introduced me to beekeeping. Beekeeping is great because it conserves the environment and it increases my income. Because bees need trees to make honey, it encourages us to plant more trees so we can get more honey. Every year, I plant more trees. This season I have planted 10 years.”

Using beehives provided by Farm Africa, Lucia harvests around 8-12kg of honey per harvest three times a year. With the money made from the honey harvests, Lucia is no longer dependent on her husband:

“I can now help my husband cover some costs. Previously, I stayed at home and I didn’t earn anything, but now I can contribute to the household. My husband is a mechanic. He likes it very much that I am involved in beekeeping because our income is higher and we get honey.”

Lucia’s honey sales have taken the sting out of paying her children’s school fees: “Before I was a An apiary of beehives in Bermibeekeeper we struggled to pay school costs and my children used to miss school, but now that is behind me, I have forgotten what that feels like.”

With the assistance of Farm Africa, Lucia and the other beekeepers who work at the honey processing centre have cultivated a good customer base for the village honey:

“Some buyers come here and buy the honey. Others contact us and we sell it to them. Farm Africa helped us to make links with buyers. We went with them to big exhibition in Arusha and Dar es Salaam. We sell the honey wholesale at 5,000 TSh for a 500g jar. Supermarkets charge 6,000 TSh for it.”

Once the planned improvements to the honey processing centre are finished, the prospects are looking good for the group to reach higher prices, meaning more profit and more secure futures for the families in the village.

Read the latest about the Big Beehive Build.