Manyoni District Council has introduced school demonstration farms in tobacco estates to prevent bees from using tobacco flowers in production of honey since tobacco contains nicotine toxin.
The crops introduced in tobacco estates are sesame, millets, sunflowers and cotton.
In a telephone interview with The Guardian yesterday, Manyoni District Executive Director Fortunata Malya said the district had decided to establish the demonstration farms so that beekeepers and farmers in Manyoni District could slowly shift from tobacco farming to other crops.
“Our aim is to help farmers shift from tobacco farming to other cash crops to improve honey and beeswax production and help increase nectar and pollen for honey and beeswax production and uplift people’s livelihoods,” she said.
The district has decided to establish this type of farming because tobacco has high quantity of nicotine toxin that can affect honey production as well as the market that Tanzania has overseas.
“As the district we don’t want to lose the market we have in Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, UK, Italy and other African countries,” she said noting that the district would continue educating farmers about the disadvantages of tobacco farming in the beekeeping sub-sector.
Presently, Manyoni District has a good environment for producing bee products because there are many plants that produce nectar and pollen that attract honeybees.
Apart from that honey produced in Manyoni is of high quality and pure at its source. “If farmers are trained in best ways of handling bee products, it can get a high price in the domestic and global market if the quality is maintained until it is used,” she said.
On the other hand, the farmers are trained to conserve natural vegetation within their areas so that bees can have enough nectar and pollen from flowers for honey and beeswax production.
About 75 per cent of honey produced in Tanzania is consumed within the country.
"There is a need to educate them about this issue because honey has a lot of benefits because it can be sold for making honey beer and honey wine, as well as food and medicine," she said.
There is also the potential market for honey in large towns, hotels, airlines and tourist centres if the honey is well packaged by producers.