Program: Commercial insects Program

Sub-Programs: Beekeeping and Sericulture

Department (s): Animal Resources and Research

I.            Apiary sub - program

Background: Beekeeping in Rwanda has made major advances in the last two decades. Productivity and production of bees have sharply increased and consequently improved rural incomes. The primary role of the program is to improve and apply beekeeping modern techniques to increase income, pollination, production and employments for poverty reduction in rural areas.

According to the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (PSTA III), livestock intensification, productivity increase and animal production diversification (fishery/beekeeping) are the best strategy for livestock development in Rwanda. Program 2 of PSTA III focuses on research, technology transfer and professionalization of farmers. Section 84 of the program activities in the strategic plan directly puts emphasis on development of priority apiculture, dairy, meat, fisheries value chains. The beekeeping and fishery sub-sectors and value-chains are classified as “small” but with high potential. Section 33 recognizes beekeeping as providing additional income for poor families with marginal land for agriculture, and mentions that about 70,000 households are engaged in beekeeping, 90% of them in a traditional manner. The major bottleneck was placed on lack of human resources, with only 1 specialist in MINAGRI and 4 in RAB at the central level, and the sectors rely on generalist veterinarians at the local level.

Achievements: During the period (2008-2015), several achievements were made, and have been hereafter described. A national beekeeping law was prepared and approved by Parliament (No 25/2013 of 10 May 2013 determining the organization and functioning of beekeeping in Rwanda); two Ministerial decrees were prepared to support the beekeeping development in Rwanda by coordinating interventions (production development, capacity building & support services, and market development and information collection mechanisms to ensure that data for the sector is available). The Prime minister’s order of 2013 establishes the organization and functioning of the national forum of beekeeping in Rwanda. Also developed were The Penalties incorporated in the penal code with regards to the beekeeping sector, No.25/2013 of 10/05/2013.

Many development organizations (NGO’s, CBOs, CSOs) and government institutions (RAB, MINAGRI, RNRA, NAEB, MINICOM, RBS, RDB and NIRDA) have been involved in supporting beekeeping activities of producer organizations in Rwanda. The number of beekeepers increased from 30,000 to 83,000.Rwandan Beekeepers have been facilitated to participate in National and International exhibitions. Now Rwanda is allowed to export honey at EU Markets.


Beekeepers have been receiving knowledge in various modern techniques for bee product generation, processing and market analysis; and extensive support in modern equipment and infrastructure establishment for production and processing.


Challenges: In spite of these attempts, the sector still needs various interventions. Production is mainly through traditional methods (PSTA III, 2013) and some modern techniques and equipment introduced have not been successful due to unsustainable implementation of projects

Opportunities: In the short term, continued rapid bee production increases are essential to ensure further reductions in rural poverty and malnutrition alleviation.  In the long term, the goal is to move Rwandan beekeeping from a largely subsistence sector to a more knowledge-intensive, market-oriented sector, sustaining growth and adding value to products.  

These will be achieved through:

-Human capacity building for research and extension;

-Control of bee diseases and pests;

-Infrastructure development for beekeeping and or product processing;

-Baseline surveys to inventory beekeepers, services providers, hives and their distribution in  Rwanda, production & training, market development and M&E;

-Regulation of agro-chemicals use in beekeeping areas; Production of starter colonies;

-Initiation and development of bee feeds; Mapping of the beekeeping areas;

-Production of starter bee colonies. The strategic plan will work with a ‘supply chain  development approach’ through consolidation of activities ‘from the hive to the table’ and to  ensure that dynamics within this supply chain remain sustainable and commercially driven.  This strategy will contribute to the mechanisms of increased production, sustainable linkages with markets, partnerships with support institutions, well managed beekeeping infrastructures and a well-established domestic and export market for beekeeping in  Rwanda. 

Approaches and strategies

-Mobilize women and youth, with emphasis on women heads of households to start beekeeping businesses and develop their leadership skills in businesses and their communities.

-To strengthen the capacity of women and youth in order to enable them come up with viable enterprises in beekeeping (modern bee farming techniques, wax processing techniques, exchange visits, participation in trade fairs).

-To promote and support youth and women’s commercial engagement (investment facilities, innovative products with added value, market access through information and facilitation, business management).

-Set up Bee Hubs at communities’ level as a training centersfor women and youth groups but also for inputs supply facilities and honey collection

-Training of Bee promoters/IMBONI Z’ABAVUMVU with focus on youth and women (beekeeping & business skills).