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Rutsiro Honey Company: Taking natural honey beyond Rwandan borders

Located at the foothills of Rutsiro district in Western Rwanda, Rutsiro Honey Company was established in 2018 to promote beekeeping, increase the quantity as well as quality of honey and help beekeepers acquire modern equipment, provide trainings and get markets.

Marie Chantal Nyirakamineza is the company’s Managing Director. She says that when they kicked off operations in March 2018, the intention was to promote farmers to earn from their beekeeping activities, provide requirements like equipment to advance to modern practices and raise production.

Two years since the establishment, the company has provided many beekeepers with solutions through distribution of modern beehives which gradually reduce traditional ones. The company has also ensured market to beekeepers through instant payment for honey supplied to the factory. Generally, the company is the biggest market for honey in the region of Gishwati including Rutsiro, Rubavu and Karongi Districts.

Nyirakamineza underscores the positive impact brought by the company to the honey market such as stimulating beekeeping which has attracted many to join the profession even those that were not involved before hence increasing people’s incomes.

She says that they will continue in the management of beehives in the region and provide the best equipment to ensure that quality is the top priority and should not be compromised in any way along the value chain from the beehive, through transportation to the factory and finally to the market.

“Our honey is 100% natural, even as many falsely believe that the factory may add any preservative because we don’t add or remove anything at the factory, we only filter and pack honey,” Nyirakamineza says.

Under the brand name “Gishwati Natural Honey”, the company produces natural honey that has health benefits in many ways not mentioning its flavor and sweetness. Gishwati Natural Honey is unique given that it is got from eucalyptus trees on which bees harvest food in this natural protected forest.

Gishwati as a natural forest with different types of natural trees, adding value to the honey with no trace of chemicals as a result of pesticides applied to plants.

Eying global markets

Rutsiro Honey Company has started negotiating with target markets and the processes is promising. The markets include Chinese, German and America where the company already sent samples. Meanwhile, the company is selling its honey to the local market including supermarkets, hotels, and shops across the country.

The Managing Director of company observes that much has been done to raise honey production in the country as well secure market both locally and internationally by the government who is their major partner. This is done through institutions like the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, RAB, NAEB and Rutsiro District.

These partners provide support to participate in both local and international exhibitions, trainings and mobilization of beekeepers.

Nyirakamineza says that they went successful because of good governance brought by the liberation of the country 25 years ago. “Women have been empowered where they are involved in different sectors of the economy as well as the beekeeping profession where they never involved before.” She says.

In Rwanda, honey was used as a food product for home, medicine and brewing traditional liquor. The domestic demand for honey is high and it has a high market value especially in the export market. Thus, the country is eying into new strategies that could increase its production in the country.