I have been meaning to tell my story about how I ventured into Honeybee Value Chain Enterprise (Bee farming). My foray into bee farming and honey production could be termed accidental and in the same vein divine. I had the utopian lofty dreams of being an engineer, strutting around the world breaking grounds and solving problems but providence had other plans. I had written Jamb three times with unfettered hope of getting admitted to study chemical engineering but each time it fluffed. On the fourth attempt, I applied to the federal university of technology Owerri (FUTO), with great hope that it would work this time.
One day while strolling and discussing with someone I heard a clear-sounding voice asking me how I would feel if I was given admission to study Animal Science and Technology. Right there and then I hushed that voice and rejected that thought because such was never going to be the route to my utopian clear cut thought-out planned life. The days rolled by and I was in high spirits expecting my name to be published in the Engineering list. The list came out and my name was missing from the Engineering list – but a look at other lists showed that I was admitted to study Animal Science and Technology.
It was a shocker and a searing experience in mental pain and it took time for me to process what happened. What did I do? I knocked on many offices in the Federal University of Technology Owerri in a bid to change the course. I met different Professors and each one had the same advice that I should go ahead with the course – assuring me that my destiny might be hidden there. I resigned to fate and took the course but wasn’t proud to tell anyone about the course I was studying at the University. I skipped classes and half-heartedly attended lectures like someone forced to follow a path with a gun to his head. This went on for two good years – until one day one of my lecturers who by providence I happened to have attended his class, made mention of modern beekeeping – Apiculture.
Something in me stirred when he talked about beekeeping and the honey production value chain. I straight away went to him because I couldn’t resist the nudge. I told him that I was interested in modern beekeeping but he tried discouraging me, but on sensing that I wouldn’t budge, he told me that the training would cost me a fee. I paid and got the training, an excellent one at that. Ordinarily, I should have deferred the start-up of the beekeeping business because of the grueling demands of modern beekeeping but the zeal and fire had been inflamed, so nothing could hold me back.
I used my meager resources to construct Bee hives using discarded school furniture that was lying in waste in the bush around the school. Funnily, I used a blunt saw to cut the wood to specifications for the beehives. I had the prodding and nothing was going to deter me. Thereafter I cited the bee farm (Apiary) in the bush inside the school and from there, things kicked off, not in a rosy way but the learning curves were worth it. Before long, I began training fellow students in apiculture. One thing was very instructive to me – that was the issue of procrastination amongst fellow students with the excuse of doing beekeeping in a big way when the resources become readily available. Till today they didn’t lift a thing because they dithered back then.
So, after graduation and going for the compulsory youth service program I decided that Agriculture would be my mainstay in business and the route to my quest to break even. I enrolled in different pieces of training in specific fields of agriculture. Fishery, cassava farming, rice, and so on. This was for me to have a full grasp of what I intend doing, as a young graduate. I went through all these enterprises and got convinced that beekeeping was for me – and I needed to add more effort by creating the required awareness and getting visibility by being original.
I set out on this path right then with one core objective, which is to harvest a hundred percent pure organic honey. I studied the market and found out that there were fake, adulterated and synthetic honey replete all over the market which instead of helping people health-wise has dangerously contributed to the waning health of many people. As a practicing Christian, I owed a duty to myself and society to correct this wrong. I wasn’t going to hoard the knowledge of how to harvest pure and organic honey. For this reason, I started organizing training on apiculture. As of the last count I have trained about 2,000 individuals in modern beekeeping and honey bee production within and outside Nigeria. Transverse the length and breadth of Nigeria’s training people in collaboration with the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, and State Governments.
I have been able to change the narrative that the original can’t be exclusively gotten from Nigeria. I had to first permeate the ECOWAS Commission with my honey and my clients had to abandon imported honey
Because mine was of greater value and organically pure. My core tenet in business is honesty and sincerity because I have a living conscience. So, I went ahead to create a premium honey brand name called Makizi Raw Honey and have broken even in the market, with great reviews from the Head of Trade of the European Union to Nigeria and ECOWAS who attested that my honey was subjected to laboratory tests and my honey was rated above the ones in Europe, the EU, French and Spanish ambassadors also patronized Makizi Raw Honey with Governors, Senators, and House of Representative members. Staff members of different embassies in Nigeria are our regular customers.
Makizi Enterprises aren’t only about honey production – we undertake Bee Pollen production, Bee Venom, Bee Propolis, Royal jelly, Honeycomb, and pollination for increased farm yields. This is to reinforce the words of the great scientist Albert Einstein who said that if bees disappeared from earth mankind would only have four years to live. Nothing can be truer than that assertion. Without the cross-pollination by bees’ plants and trees won’t have yields.
Our activities have not been without challenges but we have been able to weather the storms in an industry where the Government seems uninterested and also the fear the people have about bees. The fear of bee stings always presents itself each time I mention bee farming to landowners who display vehemence in refusing to give out their lands not without an energy-sapping lecture to dispel the fears and present the venture in a way that’s enchanting to them. I had cause to spar with some communities who dragged me before the Traditional Council for fear of incurring the ire of bees in their community. I had to use that opportunity to advance my course by preaching on the benefits of beekeeping and to the glory of God, they bought into my vision.
Bush burning and Bee hives vandalism have also been an issue we are grappling with because of the ignorance of people in this clime. Controlling such is not an easy task but we have been doing much we can with the use of fire brakes, but much awareness and sensitization could help going forward.
At Makizi we have been able to get important certifications that enable us to be global players in apiculture and agriculture in general. We are NAFDAC certified and registered. Certified by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council and a partner with the ministry of Niger Delta affairs. We have our Incubation Training and honey processing centers in Umuahia with the hope of expanding nationwide and beyond in the no-distant future.
I had to take out time to write this expose to let the people have a sneak peek into my journey into honey production and to show that original and unadulterated honey is not entirely a rarity in Nigeria. At Makizi you will get value for your money and maximize the healing attributes of pure honey. Save a life today by telling your neighbour that Makizi is the best bet for original and organic honey.
I am Kingsley Nwaogu the founder of Makizi a budding entrepreneur out to make a difference.