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Jude Ssettaba from Kampala, Uganda
"There is a lot to learn in beekeeping and this can only be achieved by practicing or starting keeping bees."
Passionate, determined and innovative are three words that perfectly describe Jude. He founded Native Products Ltd, a company engaged in providing a large scale of beekeeping products and services across Uganda. Jude’s mission is to empower local beekeepers by teaching them the proper skills of modernized beekeeping with the purpose of transforming Uganda’s beekeeping sector into a powerhouse. He has great plans for the future and he decided to share them with us.
1.Where are you from?
My name is Jude Ssettaba, founder of Native Products Ltd, located in Uganda in the capital city of Kampala. We process and pack honey, we do beekeeping training and feasibility studies and we supply bee inputs. We work with smaller holder beekeeper groups in different parts of Uganda by changing them from traditional to modern beekeeping. We teach the beekeepers modern beekeeping skills, offer inputs and in return we buy honey from them.
2. What do you love most about being a beekeeper?
Beekeeping has helped me to get exposed at the international level. I have moved to different countries purposely to attend bee events and training. It has also changed my life by earning a living without putting too much energy.
3. What advice would you give to beekeepers who are beginners? Please share some beekeeping tricks that would help them.
The advice I can give to beginners is there is a lot to learn in beekeeping and this can only be achieved by practicing or starting keeping bees. The more time they spend practicing beekeeping the more knowledge they get. Having a lot of knowledge will help them achieve the desired goals.
4. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges of being a beekeeper in your country or area? (harsh climate, bee decline etc.)
Most farmers are still practicing beekeeping on a small scale. As a honey processor I end up not fulfilling my customer’s demands due to low production. We lack financial support from the government and other donor agencies. This has slowed the development of beekeeping, while other sub-sectors like dairy are growing at a high speed, because they are funded by the government.
5. What are your beekeeping plans for the future?
I want to be the biggest honey processor in Africa in the next coming years. I have started creating linkages and connections and I have drawn plans which will help me to achieve my goal.
6. Do you know of any financing options available to beekeepers in your country?
Beekeeping in Uganda is still practiced using traditional methods. Nonetheless, beekeeping has become part of agriculture in Uganda. A lot of interventions are needed to develop the sector.
First of all, the apicultural policies are not working well. Traditional methods and poor practices are still used by farmers. Uganda has got fake /false team players in the sector, the cost of bee inputs is high, farmers are not exposed to sector opportunities and there is too much corruption among leaders and team players from the sector. If those issues are not worked on, we are most likely to stay in the same position. Our honey production is still very low. The biggest percent of honey consumed in Uganda comes from Congo forests.
We, at Native Products ltd, came up with an idea of promoting the transitional hive which is affordable to low-income earners because it is made from the available materials in our areas.
Transitional hive is a combination of Top bar hive and traditional hive. It can produce the same type of honey from KTB hives. We copy the technology of Top bars and shape from KTB hive, and then we copy the traditional knowledge of using cow dung and poles. We are doing this to make beekeeping cheap for everyone.
Currently we are promoting this hive in different parts of Uganda to increase the production of hive products.
We also supply other modern beehives to our networking groups as I am going to share with you in the pictures and videos.
Native products ltd is a company which makes profit, so we do this work with the help of funding agencies. However, the government has not put too much emphasis on beekeeping. Other sectors like dairy are more prioritized because most leaders are cattle keepers.
7. Tell us if you are a member of any Beekeeping Association or club, which one?
We have two associations in Uganda. I am not a member and am not willing to join because there is too much corruption and embezzlement of funds procured for beekeepers. Instead of implementing and doing the work, they use the money to build arcades and stalled buildings.
Beekeeping in Uganda
Richness and diversity perfectly describe the African paradise of Uganda.
Beekeeping has been a part of agriculture in Uganda for generations. It is mainly an agricultural country, where most of the population, over 70%, depends on agriculture.
Out of a 37.5 million population, Uganda has over 1.2 million beekeepers across the country and 2600 tons of honey is sold annually with 1800 exported out of the country.
Tradition is embodied in African culture and as a result, beekeepers still rely on traditional methods. In rural areas, people have vast knowledge of bees, plants and favourable places to raise bees. They build beehives from timber, bamboo boruss palms or woven from forest climbers.
As things are progressing, some beekeepers have gained access to learning how to build and manage Kenya Top Bar (KTB) hives. This modern type of hives allows beekeepers to harvest honey and other bee products, without putting in danger the bee colonies, ultimately destroying the hives, like some older methods do.
In Uganda, honey is harvested between March - June and August - October. There’s a huge potential in honey production, estimated at 500,000 metric tons per year, but unfortunately it is not fully exploited.
According to the Ugandan Beekeepers Association, only between 800-1200 metric tons of honey is produced per year, as a consequence of the current lack of bee-stock.
Eria Nsubuga Nvule, a bee expert in Uganda, has stated that the reason for the limited modernization of beekeeping in the African region is the lack of queen bee raising and bee-packaging projects. He believes the right step towards improving beekeeping, honey, wax production and also the incomes, would be to invest in queen bees and packaging.
Such a project was coordinated by Mr. Nsubuga Nvule in collaboration with a German NGO and Action Africa Hilfe (AHH), which provided numerous hives and starter colonies to refugees, helping them gain a better income by practicing beekeeping.
Uganda’s equatorial landscape, rich with amazing natural resources, fertile land, rainfall and wildlife, is truly an African treasure and a perfect host for the bees to thrive.
Its natural and agricultural vegetation offer an ideal home for honey bees. Species such as shea nut, acacia trees, Eucalyptus, cola, palm oil, coffee are major bee plants.
The African continent is blessed with numerous types of bees, such as the stingless bees, solitary bees, honey bees, all buzzing from the equatorial evergreen rainforest to the desert oasis. The drier Savannah is a more favourable habitat for commercial honey and beeswax production than the wetter forest terrains.
For honey production, the African honey bee, known as Apis mellifera adansonii, is considered to be the champion, but six other species of stingless Trigonid bees are also used for pollination. Additional important bee products are beeswax, propolis, royal jelly or “bee milk”, pollen, and bee venom.
Most of the honey is bottled while some is used in clinics for treatments of sore throats and also for HIV/AIDS patients to treat infections. Propolis is considered an important antimicrobial ally used in the medical field to treat diabetes, inflammations, and cold sores.
Some beekeepers use their ingenuity to make ice-cream cones from wax, combined with maize flour. Wax is highly demanded for the creation of garments such as batiks, and household textiles.
The Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization (TUNADO) is the main institution under which the beekeepers are organized.
The organization is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and collaborates directly with the ministry and other organizations including OXFAM, TRIAS, to support beekeepers, farmers through different projects.
TUNADO unites producers (beekeepers), processors, packers, service providers (trainers, researches, marketers, equipment manufactures etc), development partners, government and all other stakeholders towards apiculture development in Uganda.
Beekeepers settled in remote areas of Uganda are facing many challenges, the biggest one being the road network. When it rains, the roads linked to the remote areas become impossible to cross in order for the beekeepers to get access to the market. As a consequence, they are provided with a very low income.
Thereby, TUNADO (Uganda National Apiculture Development Organization) stepped in and created market hubs where the groups of farmers and beekeepers can gather their products and successfully sell them.
The major group of beekeepers is called Kamwenge Beekeepers Cooperative Society (KABECOS), based in the South Western Ugandan district of Kamwenge. TUNADO is also taking the lead in expanding an important training project called Beekeeper to Beekeeper(B2B), where a group of beekeepers is trained and in return offers training to 4 other people at their farm.
The TUNADO also works together with Bees for Development to run projects to reinforce rural incomes and opportunities for commerce.
The National Agricultural Advisory Services (Naads) turned beekeeping into a popular profession in the early 2000s, by offering free hives, which in return increased interest, mostly in northern Uganda.
Malaika Honey is a dynamic social enterprise established in Uganda that believes in the future of beekeeping. They initiate various projects throughout Uganda to help beekeepers develop practical modern knowledge and raise their income levels.