Honey - one of the oldest ingredients in our recorded history, a vital component of bio diversity, and a commodity which is currently facing a global shortage.
Honey bees are believed to have originated from the continent of Africa, making their first appearance in North America in the 1600’s. Bees are a cradle for the global human population in bio diversity and plant pollination.
Production of honey in Africa is not a new thing - it is one of the oldest commodities of Africa alongside gold.
Ethiopia is the largest honey producing African country, producing approximately 45,300t of honey annually, Tanzania being the second largest producer, and Kenya coming in third at approximately 7300t.
The majority of honey produced in Africa is exported to the United Arab Emirates, the world’s most lucrative honey market.
Once the raw material arrives in importing countries it is at minimum doubled in price at wholesale, and much more in products with organic or fair trade certifications.
This represents a pattern of colonization where the raw material is exported at a low price, taking with it the revenues in manufacturing, production and retail sales that would otherwise remain in the producing country and is a pattern of unequal economic distribution.
Introducing Ms. Marjorie Peters, CEO of BizzyBee Honey Company based in Kitengela, Kajiado County. Peters studied 'Community Development' at Mount Kenya University, and launched BizzyBee Honey Company in 2020 with ($6 USD).
Already she has seen a massive growth in her operations and in 2021 she was nominated for the 'Argripreneur' category of the Foya Awards Under 30.
In the beginning she purchased honey from local producers and sold her branded products to local shops. Now, only two years later BizzyBee Honey Company has become more integrated, expanded their product line to include tamarind and baobab fruits, and is building it's empire of honey production in Kenya.
Other areas of integrated expansion has been to sell the apiary bee keeping equipment to people in the area who then produce honey for her brand.
While setting up local producers to sell raw material to one main company is an integral part of the colonization process which led to the economic inequality we face today, BizzyBee Honey Company is different in that the honey value added manufacturing remains in Africa.
BizzyBee Honey Company will export honey, tamarind, and baobob fruits in the future - but they can do it while retaining the value in the producing country. Already, BizzyBee Honey Company has shipped its products to Tanzania and South Africa.
In our interview, Ms. Peters says she is "passionate about bees and learning from them, especially the worker bees because they know the duties assigned for them by collecting pollen."
According to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, it is estimated that Kenya imports approximately ($228,604 USD) worth of honey annually.
In our humble opinion, Kenya, and other honey producing regions in Africa with the right tools and support are perfectly capable of producing more honey for their own domestic market and value added manufacturing.
More production and local revenues gives more opportunity to innovate and advance in the booming honey market and to sell their products at higher values instead of shipping that sweet raw honey and margin away.
What does the future hold for the production of honey in Kenya? We think quite a lot - and we will wait and watch BizzyBee Honey Company continue to expand their operations, bring on more contracted bee keepers, and lead the way in honey production in East Africa.
You can learn more about BizzyBee Honey Company by visiting their website here.