bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A microcosm of the African trade conundrum

On this the day of the Live 8 concerts (you might like to sign the Live 8 petition) across the globe, here's a story from Africa that surprised me:
It is an undisputable fact that the anti-tobacco lobby in the western world is determined as ever to completely phase out, off the face of the earth, Malawi's main foreign exchange earner - tobacco.

This is going to have far reaching consequences for the country that, up to now is yet to identify an acceptable alternative to the crop.

But should Malawians smile when they consider there is a chance to make Honey, the hidden Treasure?HOPKINS MUNDANGO NYIRENDA investigated the prospect and writes:

The government in its diversification drive have suggested many and varied products to replace tobacco like tourism, paprika, cotton, cassava and other crops. But none of the above comes anywhere near to honey ...

Beekeepers and a group of researchers in Nkondezi Village in Nkhata-Bay north have a point to prove to Malawians; that honey can replace tobacco if harnessed properly. They contend that the nectar can fetch much higher prices on the local and international markets than tobacco.
The article goes on to show that kg for kg honey fetches a higher price that tobacco. However EU regulations require high quality honey -- and that requires education. It's an interesting proposition.


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