In a typical case of one man’s meat is another ones poison, players in the honey industry claim that the continued rainfall is good for their business as it will mean more honey harvested.
This growing season has been characterised by erratic rainfall, fall army worms and in some instances prolonged dry spells.
However as farmers were expecting the rains will stop so that they can harvest the little their fields produced, there was no ceasing as more rains continued to fall across the country leading to floods in some areas.
The situation forced farmers to harvest crops like maize which had not fully dried to avoid further losses.
While the farmers were complaining, two of the country’s big players in the honey industry, African Honey and Food Products as well as Northern Honey Processors say they will have more honey.
Director for African Honey and Food Products Fredrick Matress disclosed in an interview that they will harvest 25,000 tons this year up from 15,000 in 2017.
“Rains have been favourable this year and whenever there are good rains we harvest a lot of honey. We are working with farmers in Nkhata Bay, Lilongwe, Rumphi, Chitipa, Karonga, and districts in the central region. In the cooperatives we deal with there are 1800 farmers but during peak periods we work with 2,500 farmers,” said Matress.
Matress said more rains do not only mean more flowers but enough water for the bees to use in their colonies.
On the decision by South Africa to stop purchasing honey from Malawi due to a disease known as Varra mites, Matress said being the biggest market in the region it could have been better if a solution was found fast.
Varroa mites are external parasites that attack honey bees and brood. They suck the blood from both adults and developing brood, especially drone brood and this weakens and shortens the bees life according to Mattress.
“We are losing quite a lot because some informal traders find their way with honey into South Africa but if the market was formalized the benefits could have been huge. South Africa wants honey that is radiated but as at now we are not radiating it,” he added.
Northern honey processors Director Lumbani Nhlema concurred with Matress that there will be more honey this year compared to last season.
“Last year we produced seven tons and this year we hope to harvest between seven and 10 tons. This is mainly due to the favourable weather despite that we have also increased the number of colonies and hives,” said Nhlema.
On Varroa mites Nhlema said African bees are very resilient and the decision by South Africa to stop buying Malawian honey is affecting expansion of the sector.