MWENEZI - Following the unveiling of loans from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development, more than 1000 bee farmers are eager to improve honey production.
In their tour of the districts, officials in the ministry are urging other existing small businesses to register so as to access OFID loans.
The Mwenezi leg of the workshops was held recently and it saw participants calling for the use of modern beehives to replace the primitive equipment currently being used by many.
"In Mwenezi district we are about 200 farmers who are engaging in bee keeping. The current beehives, referred to as the Kenyan top bar type, cannot uplift us as they can only hold four to five kgs of honey for a period of six months. As a result, the honey being produced by many is for family consumption alone.
"It would be good if the ministry to equipped bee farmers with imported beehives that can accommodate 40 to 50 kgs of honey for a period of six months. That way, honey farmers can produce for commercial purposes," said one participant in his contribution.
Speaking on behalf of Permanent Secretary Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, the ministry's provincial head, Munyaradzi Rubaya said plans are afoot for the purchase of a honey processing machine.
Rubaya said as long as bee farmers put in place their business proposals, the importation of beehives for commercial production will be facilitated by the ministry.
The OFID loans which are set to benefit individuals and cooperatives with registered businesses have no collateral constraints as long as it can be verified that the businesses does exist.
It is hoped the loans are going to boost many business including district ranchers who have been struggling due to perennial droughts.business