FARMERS have been urged to venture into bee keeping as it has unlimited opportunities and the potential to be a huge income earner.
Speaking to rural farmers at a field day held at the homestead of 94-year-old farmer Joseph Dube in a Ntabazinduna Ward, the agricultural technical and extension services (Agritex) supervisor Sipho Ndlovu encouraged farmers to go into bee keeping saying the country was losing vast amounts of money by importing honey from other countries when it could be easily produced locally.
Dube has a large maize crop, pumpkins and melons.
“We encourage farmers to diversify in their farming production. Bee production is a potential income earner and we encourage people to tap into it,” Ndlovu said.
“We have very few farmers in Zimbabwe practicing it and this has forced the country to import honey instead of local farmers supplying it. We need Zimbabwe to be a major honey exporter in Southern Africa because currently South Africa is the biggest producer.
“There is high demand for honey, but very low supply. Bee production is very cheap to practice and the labour needed is close to zero,” Ndlovu said.
He said honey harvesting could be done twice or three times a year depending on the environment.
Speaking at the same occasion, Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa echoed the same sentiments and added that farmers should also practice conservation agriculture because it was cheap and reduced land degradation.
“I would like to urge farmers to also practice conservation agriculture (gatshompo) because it increases high food production and uses little fertiliser,” Dabengwa, who is also a farmer, said.
“Do not be confined only to cultivating maize, but do cash crops such as sunflower, groundnuts, beans and bee keeping so that you can earn more money.”
Agritex revealed last year that it had formed a provincial agriculture committee and was in the process of structuring district development communities in a bid to mobilise farmers in Matabeleland North to tap into bee production. According to Agritex, Zimbabwe has got only 41 honey producers with those in Matabeleland North only found in Binga, Bubi and Lupane.