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Creating sweet success with honey

Written by Siya Miti

A Mthatha entrepreneur's hobby has grown into a successful business - thanks to government's assistance.

A honey co-operative which began as a way to pass time for young businessman Simthembile Nzuzo has grown and now produces about three tons of honey per year.Sithembile Nzuzo hopes to see his beekeeping and honey business expand to other provinces.

Nzuzo started the beekeeping and honey producing business as a hobby, with two hives at the age of 23. It has now grown into a five-member business called Nzuzo Farming Pride Co-operative with 206 hives, and is based in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. 

Nzuzo was drawn to bees while growing up in a farm house where there were regular bees beneath wooden floors.

“The bees would come out of ventilators and sometimes sting us. Even when they were removed, within three months there were bees again. I became interested and I was also good at agriculture at school.” 

Nzuzo, now 29, said the business grew because of financial and training support from various government agencies, such as the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC), Small Enterprise Development Agency and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).

“I started in 2013 with two hives and increased the number to ten.”

He adds that this was followed by training he received from ARC along with funding of R500 000 from the ECDC. 

“The financial boost enabled the co-operative to distribute beyond their local community.”

Their honey is now available at various outlets in Mthatha, including Spar, Foodlovers Market, Panarottis, Mayfair Hotel and Dan’s Country Lodge. 

Nzuzo said Seda also played a role in their success by supporting them with R296 000.

“We are also being assisted by OR Tambo Municipality and the Limpopo University Agro and Food Processing for our honey to be approved by the South African Bureau of Standards.” 
Nzuzo plans to commercialise his business by looking for markets in other provinces since there is a demand for honey.