Tanzania has a size potential of producing 138,000 metric tons of honey worth Tsh133.3 billion ($138 million) per annum but currently the country produces only 7,800 tons per annum.
Sector analysts say, the minimal production was caused by the poor investment. In Tanzania beekeeping is carried out using traditional methods that accounts for 99% of the total production of honey and beeswax.
A study conducted by the Private Agricultural Sector Support Ltd (PASS) said "the country is capable of producing 138, 000 metric tons of honey worth Tsh 133.3 billion (Us. $138 million) every year."
The PASS's study availed to East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam last week found that the country also has potential to produce over 9,200 metric tons of beeswax worth Tsh35.5 billion (Us $ 36.8 million) annually.
The Principal Beekeeping Officer in the ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, Mr Mathew Kiondo confirmed that the country has about 9.2 million honeybee colonies.
"Yes, I confirm that the country's production potential of bee products is about 138,000 tons of honey and 9,200 tons of beeswax per annum," said Kiondo.
According to PASS which was established to stimulate growth and investment in the agricultural and agro-business in Tanzania, more effort is needed to boost investment in the sector.
The study said the country produces about 4,860 tons of honey worth Tsh4.9 billion ($5m). It can as well produce 324 tons of beeswax worth Tsh648 million ($ 675,000) every year.
"This is only 3.5% of the existing potential of the beekeeping industry," the study said.
According to PASS, Tanzania's honey is purely organic and is ranked among the best in the world having passed the International Quality Test in the United Kingdom by 100% for clarity, consistency and low yeast and moisture contents.
The PASS's study said that there are over 34 million hectares of extensive and diverse forest lands hosting 9.2 million colonies of honey bees and a rich reserve of honey and beeswax now ready for harvesting.
It added, highly demanded in the urban domestic market and an ever-expanding export market in Europe, Japan and the Middle-East.
"Potentially low investment costs and promising high returns in the immediate and long term," the study said.
Beeswax is highly priced and highly demanded product nationally and internationally; it enjoys an already established and reliable export market in Europe, Japan, and the Middle-East, it added.
According to the study, the clearest type of honey is found abundantly in the regions of Iringa and Singida. The western zone of Tanzania including the regions of Tabora and Shinyaga has the largest reserves of bee products averaging 52,000 metric tons per year.
The potential markets for honey and beeswax include the local rural market which has traditionally been the largest for raw honey absorbing over 60% of all honey produced nationwide.
"The urban market in Tanzania is growing fast and the demand for honey is expanding rapidly," the study said and added current supplies do not meet the demand in urban areas. The export market for Tanzania's honey and beeswax is secure. Reliable markets are found in Japan, the United Kingdom, Finland, and the United Arab Emirates.
Tanzania was once the world leader in exports of beeswax in the 1960s and early 1970s and has the potential to once again dominate the world market given the unique opportunities available in the country.