Ethiopian farmers produce around 50,000 tons of honey each year and there are beehives on almost every farm. This is the traditional and customary way of production and the honey produced is consumed mostly on farms and sold in small quantities at local markets. Most of the honey produced does not meet an international quality standard and thus can not compete on the export market.
In 2009, the Norwegian Development Fund and Honningcentralen started a collaboration to provide training for beekeepers in Ethiopia. The aim was that the small sized beekeepers should be able to deliver honey for export and to increase their capacity so that honey produced can compete on the international market. Over 1,000 beekeepers have received modern beehives that are placed on the ground, protective clothing and smoking accessories. In one year, these farmers increased their income from honey by an average 20%. The modern hives makes work easier and allows for greater production as well as better quality, which in turn gives a higher price for the product. The new hives also makes it easier for women to work as beekeepers.
The honey produced by the farmers is delivered to local processing firms. Through the project, these firms have also acquired the necessary equipment and knowledge to refine the honey so that it meets the international quality requirements. The honey is processed, cleaned, packed and made ready for export. Before the honey leaves the port in neighboring Djibouti, samples are sent to a lab in Germany for quality testing.
The first honey was exported from Ethiopia to Norway in 2009, and over 560 tons of honey have been exported to Norway so far.