Honey farmers at Charamba business centre in Nyanga are eyeing export markets after the commissioning of Chiningu Honey Processing Plant, which has state-of-the-art equipment worth US$120 000, in a move that has transformed local beekeepers from subsistence to commercial production.

Honey production is one of the longest traditional practices passed on from one generation to another in Zimbabwe, but it has largely not been commercialised.

Just over 20 000 beekeepers across the country have the capacity to produce over 1 000 metric tonnes of honey every year, and in the process transform livelihoods and grow the apiary industry whose product has a huge market locally and internationally.

Nyanga South legislator, Cde Supa Mandiwanzira, who officially opened the processing centre on behalf of Manicaland Minister of State, Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, said the plant is part of sustainability and resilience projects supported by five non-governmental organisations (NGO), UNDP and the government, and is an example of genuine community empowerment initiatives that offer alternative support to relief aid.

The shift to focus on sustainable development as opposed to only concentrating on relief aid during droughts is surely a positive step towards empowering rural communities. The business will help the local community generate foreign currency as honey is in huge demand locally and internationally,” said Cde Mandiwanzira.

Chiningu Honey Plant Chairperson, Mr Killian Sibanda said his group of 40 farmers is humbled by the development, adding that the group is now focusing on expanding operations and exporting honey within the next five years, as they move from subsistence to profitability.

“Commercialisation of our operations is transforming our lives as it helps us to make profits as we seek to grow our business and end up exporting our honey,” he said.

The commissioning of the honey processing plant brought joy to Nyanga South constituency.