Ethiopian beekeepers from Slow Food Presidia projects attended the ApiExpo Africa event in Addis Ababa over September 26-30, a biennial event to promote African honey and other bee products organized this year under the theme “Beekeeping for Food Security and Combating Climate Change”. They were joined by more than 2,000 delegates from 20 African countries – including producers, buyers, researchers and honey trade support networks – as well as agricultural suppliers from the Middle East, Europe and the USA.
Ethiopia has strong historical links with traditional beekeeping practices and the Oromia, Amhara, Southern Nation and Nationalities People and Tigray regions were represented by small-scale honey producers and cooperatives as well as large cooperatives and private producers. Ethiopia is infact the world’s ninth largest honey-producing nation, and Africa’s biggest, and yet the Ethiopian Apiculture Board reveals the national annual capacity is 500,000 tons of honey compared to the 43,000 tons currently produced. As one of the world’s poorest countries, this represents a great potential to increase the livelihood of small-scale producers, but many need assistance in increasing product quality and marketing for the local and international market.
Among the small-scale beekeepers present, members of the Wenchi Volcano Honey and Tigray White Honey Presidia and other producers from the Honeys of Ethiopia Network – supported by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in partnership with the Italian organizations Modena per gli altri (MOxA), Terre del Terzo Mondo and Conapi) – attracted great attention for the steps they have taken towards these goals. With thousands of honeys on display, products from the Honeys of Ethiopia producers were applauded for their high quality and professional marketing, and despite having a higher purchase price, their honey sold out in the first two days.
The event was an excellent opportunity for exchange and sharing information to build the success of the sector across Africa and to learn of new opportunities. The honey network producers had the opportunity to watch the production of propoli and wax by beekeepers from Gambella, and believe it is a good secondary opportunity for them to work on in the future.
The Italian company LEGA, producers of beekeeping equipment, made the producers’ participation possible by covering the exhibition stand expenses.
ApiEXPO Africa was launched internationally in Uganda 2008 by 11 African countries, and Zimbabwe will host the fourth edition in 2014.
Photo: Tigray White Honey Presidium © Paola Viesi