Developing a honey export value chain

Published: 26 February 2019
Last edited: 26 February 2019

Honey export value chains have been developed according to the following stepwise approach:

  1. Selection of cooperatives
  2. Training model farmers in pre-and post-harvesting quality management, organic certification and internal controlling system, traceability system to fulfill EU-quality parameters
  3. Provision of food grade and quality improving equipment (packaging & processing equipment, solar lamps, food grade honey bags, presses etc.)
  4. Provide technical expertise from Germany to smallholders, their cooperatives and unions in honey processing and fulfilling the export requirements (e.g. honey water content control)
  5. Support the unions to acquire an export license, organic certificate and risk management certificate plus other necessary requirements from the Ethiopian government in order to implement the export process
  6. Communication to veterinarians and other inspection authorities on EU-level by German partners to allow future import of Ethiopian honey
  7. Constantly monitor and guide honey unions, laboratories and authorities during the export procedure
  8. Establish a contact to the shipping line by German partners and prepare honey export logistics


Education, training and other capacity development activities
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

  • Trust between local farmer unions and international companies and advisors
  • Clear demand for high quality honey by business sector in Germany
  • Higher demand for organic honey in Europe due to lower export rates from Latin America & Asia as honey production is increasingly meeting domestic demands
  • Use restrictions of BR buffer zones according to UNESCO
  • Local smallholders engaged in participatory forest management (PFM) groups receive official forest user rights & direct access to products

Lessons learned

  • The interplay between local expertise and international know how resulted in a successful set up of value chains. It was crucial to conduct very detailed trainings with producers especially on post-processing to achieve high quality honey
  • Local prices for honey are high which made the price negotiations difficult for the international buyer
  • The ownership of the whole “value-chain” from the grass root producer up to the loading the coffee bags onto a vessel for the overseas market is owned by the producers and their representative umbrella structures. This is a unique example where grass roots structures have become global business partners 
  • Meeting the EU quality standards needs constant checks of honey producing methods. Producers mostly achieved fulfilling the quality standards and delivered 42 Mt of honey. The rest of the honey has been sold to local traders for the local market or other purposes resulting in additional but lower revenues as exported honey

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