THE Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Salum Kijuu, has advised residents in the region to commercialize through modern beekeeping and honey harvesting.
He noted that modern beekeeping and honey harvesting would improve their livelihoods following outbreak of a destructive Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), also known as Banana Bacterial Wilt.
The Coffee Rust disease has also caused panic among Kagera farmers. The fungus directly affects coffee leaves, initially with yellow spots that later turn orange and reach around the foliage of coffee, then makes the leaves fall.
The plant loses its foliage. It’s not able to breathe, so it ceases producing and it eventually dies. Mr Kijuu noted that the region had potential and a conducive climate to benefit from modern beekeeping and honey harvesting.
“People should change their mindset and move with time. There is no reason at all to complain without taking any action,” he said. He elaborated that to date there were a total of 672 farmers engaged in active beekeeping out of who 420 were males and 252 women.
The number of beehives also increased from 151,860 during 2005/06 to 212,250 during 2010/2011 equivalent to 13.8 per cent increase. He noted that a farmer can pocket between 200,000/- and 250,000/- from a well-managed beehive.
Beekeeping is a lucrative economic activity, he remarked. About 70 per cent of the region’s 2.7 million people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and their main source of income.
Food crops include maize, beans, rice, bananas, sweet potatoes, cassava, vegetables and fruits. Cash crops include coffee, tobacco, cotton and vanilla.
The region has a total of 1.2 million hectares suitable for irrigation and livestock pasture while only 500,000 hectares are utilized, equivalent to only 45 percent.