Exporting honey from Zambia to the world

Alan Chanda

Dytech is a Zambian business which produces honey under the brand name SweetHarvest. The company, launched in 2016, has its own bee farms and also sources honey from a large network of small-scale farmers (outgrowers). Dytech has developed innovative beehives, called ZamHives, which increases honey yields from 15kg to 75kg per season. Founder Alan Chanda answers our questions.

1. Give us your elevator pitch.

Dytech is an agribusiness that works with rural communities to produce high-value honey for export to global markets. The honey is sourced mostly from outgrower farmers. We have designed a commercially scalable model using our low-cost, highly-productive ZamHives made from unwanted wood waste and offcuts. These hives are provided to the outgrower farmers. We will soon also start producing sweets – lollipops, candy and lozenges – from pure honey as well as sweeteners for tea and coffee.

2. Where do you sell your products?

Some 95% of all the honey is exported and 5% is sold in Zambia. We sell to two major chain stores and 200 shops across Zambia.

ZamHives is a spacious double-deck beehive that attracts bees by mimicking the natural environment and creating an atmosphere like the inside of the tree trunk. This encourages bees to settle and produce honey.

3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?

It would go towards scaling our outgrower scheme across carefully selected African countries. We would build 250,000 beehives and plant high-value commercially-scalable export-grade foods – such as mangoes and avocados – to create opportunities for our outgrowers to have more than one income stream. We would also use the money to realise our ambition of producing sweets and drink sweeteners.

4. How competitive is the industry?

Early entrants into the market include COMACO, Forest Fruits and Ubuchi. The industry is very competitive. Most of our competitors only source honey from one of the provinces in Zambia, which has driven up prices. There has also been little innovation in terms of new products (such as sweets) and beehives (such as our ZamHives technology). Dytech sources honey from four provinces in Zambia. We produce the lowest priced honey in Zambia due to innovation and our scalable relationships with partners.

Harvested honey packed in drums, ready for export.

5. What challenges does your business face?

Some of our partner farmers are engaged in side selling. We would sign an agreement with them, but then they would sell some honey to our competitors. If we catch our honey outgrowers side selling, we take away their ZamHives.

Another challenge is deforestation. Some people have this tradition of burning wild forests to easily trap animals. It is essential to have partnerships with the government and local chiefs to ensure the forests are kept in pristine condition. Without their support, it is very difficult to secure the forests as honey production areas.