US$5bn local honey industry at risk


…as climate change, chemicals hinder production

Climate change, environmental issues and the heavy use of agrochemicals are threatening the survival of the almost US$5billion domestic honey production sector, the Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana (CAG) has disclosed.

CAG’s Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Selorm Morrison, speaking to the B&FT on the dwindling fortunes of the industry, said honey production booms on organic agroecology systems where bees thrive in a more natural environment than chemically polluted conditions.

The ever-increasing reliance on the use of chemicals, most of which are harmful to the survival of bees, according to Mr. Morrison, has become a bane to the sector.

Data from CAG indicates the country currently produces a little over US$168million worth of honey annually, but that could skyrocket to more than US$5billion if the right strategies are adopted and quality of the commodity given priority.

China, the second largest global exporter of honey, made some US$260million from the commodity in 2021. Interestingly, that country also leads 90 percent of global fake honey production as its honey products do not constitute even 30 percent of natural honey.

But CAG maintained that Ghana has a more conducive and agroecological advantage to derive more from honey than China if the right strategies are adopted to increase production.

“CAG has mango farms, cocoa farms, cashew farms, orange farms piloted for honey production; but the increasing challenge of disease control through chemicals have made it difficult to keep up with the global demand,” he added.

In Europe, pollination is mostly done by companies which provide such services with bees and charge fees. In Ghana and Africa, however, pollination is done naturally by bees in the wild without a cost. This, according to CAG, offers huge opportunities for Ghana to increase production.

“We can only appeal to the Environmental Protection Agency to control and further scrutinise the type of chemicals that are being imported for agriculture purposes. Some of the chemicals are not friendly toward honey production,” the Chamber’s CEO lamented.

Proposed strategies by CAG to increase production

The Chamber argued that secondary schools can be resourced to develop at least 10 acre cashew, orange or coconut farms, as these crops are ideal because they are not heavily disease-induced compared to cocoa and mango, among others.

About 200 secondary schools, CAG noted, can undertake this initiative on the 10-acre plantation and by the time the farm is around three years, beehives can be placed on such farms. In five years, he said, more money could be made from the honey produced than from the cash crops.

“Assuming each of 200 secondary schools have 10-acre beehives, and each acre accommodates 10 beehives. That is 20,000 beehives and this initiative alone should generate not less than US$1.5billion worth of honey annually,” Mr. Morrison indicated.

There are more than 700 secondary schools in Ghana as of 2021 per the GES schools register for 2020.

Standard and quality of Ghana’s honey

The Chamber, in partnership with the livestock division of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has a laboratory for testing locally produced honey.

CAG is also holding a series of training for honey producers in the Northern, Volta and Oti Regions.

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