How Honey is Helping Diversify Zambia’s Economy

Zambia is traditionally known for its copper exports, being the world’s second largest miner of the metal. The country is also one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. However, Zambia is still held back by unemployment, underemployment and poverty. To combat these issues the government has taken various steps to diversify Zambia’s economy and reduce its reliance on mining and minerals.

One of the industries springing from this push for diversification is bees honey. Zambian honey has since grown in popularity and has transformed into one of the businesses that is providing opportunities for entrepreneurship and empowerment, for women as a well as men.

A Sweet Business

Zambian honey is distinct in terms of the diversity of its flavour profile. As the honey is cultivated and cultured using traditional methods, as opposed to commercial scale farming, each hive is able to offer its own flavour profile. The flavour of the honey is impacted by what the bees in each hive are feeding on and thus, from locality to locality, there is a massive diversity of flavour. This helps distinguish Zambian bees honey from other origins, which are often pretty homogenous in terms of flavour profile.

With the increase in popularity of the product, the bees honey industry in Zambia is seeing much investment into the sector. With this investment is also coming modern methods of farming, which are reducing the labour intensiveness of the process whilst increasing productivity and also access for women into the industry.

For example, female bee keepers in the town of Kapiri Mposhi, a town north of Lusaka, came together to form a cooperative called the Kabule Women’s Group. The cooperative organized for and received 150 modern hives, which transformed the community’s productivity from 45 buckets of honey to 300 buckets of honey in a single cycle.

An Opportunity for Entrepreneurship and Economic Emancipation

The Zambian Government’s decision to push for diversification has seen it providing various incentives to the beekeeping industry. This has led to many new opportunities for both men and women in terms of entrepreneurship and an escape from poverty.

The positive change is visible in the numbers as Zambia’s official export figures presently indicate that, over the last 5 years, bees honey exports have increased by 700%. This is a significant achievement and is providing much needed income for many Zambians. Small businesses and women entrepreneurs are particularly benefiting from this.

Going Big

With the success that Zambian honey has enjoyed in the region, the industry now has its sights set on the big markets in Europe, the US and Asia. Exports to these markets have already begun and this is doing wonders for the industry as a whole as these markets expect high standards and various certifications.

As a result of this and joint efforts by various collectives, many producers are now HACCP and ISO certified for food safety, bringing Zambian honey in line with international standards. Honey exports are positioned to be a key component in the future growth of Zambia’s economy and its people’s fight for economic emancipation through job and wealth creation.

Facing the Challenges of an Emerging Market

Being an economy in an emerging market, particularly in Africa, presents certain challenges. One of these is cross-border trade settlements, which can be cumbersome and expensive when done using traditional methods. In fact, the smallest producers are at the greatest disadvantage when using traditional payment networks such as SWIFT.

That is why we at Euro Exim Bank are part of a revolution in global trade settlements, through our partnership with RippleNet, which uses on-demand liquidity and the digital asset Ripple (XRP) to facilitate virtually instantaneous cross-border payments that are cheap and accessible to even the smallest of businesses.

If you are looking to make or receive international payments quickly, easily and economically without discrimination, speak to one of our trade experts today.