When: October 16, 2019
Where: Merryland Park in Cairo’s Heliopolis
Small beekeepers face big challenges in Egypt, where many people eat a lot of sugar but very little honey.
Are Egyptian sugar consumers, who are used to eating sugar-laden Egyptian jams and havla, willing to switch from saturated sugar to honey?
According to the festival’s website, honey consumption in Egypt as well as in the Arab world in general is very low at an average of 100 grams or less annually, whereas in Europe the average person consumes over 2 kilograms every year.
This fabulous festival is just a few days away—the first Egyptian Honey Festival. There will be 50 exhibitors, mostly Egyptian but a few from Libya, Oman and Lebanon. The organizers hope to expand the festival next year to include more international exhibitors and turn it into a global tourist attraction.
The purpose of the festival is to blend education, business and pleasure.
It will feature chefs cooking dishes using honey instead of sugar. Concerts, children’s events, games and activities, exhibitions, and an all-day workshop called “The Young Beekeepers’ Program” will be offered at the festival. As well as workshops with chefs. A competition for recipes using honey will even take place. The wellness and nutritional benefits of honey as a natural immune system booster will also be showcased.
Ancient Egypt had a rich history of beekeeping, as can be seen in this very short video (less than 2 minutes long):
The Arab Beekeepers Union is an organizer of the event as well as MEDmart, and the chairman, Mahmoud Hassan, hopes to educate visitors about the health benefits of using honey as a sweetener instead of saturated sugar in the Egyptian kitchen.
Egypt has a moderate climate that allows beekeeping throughout the year, and as such, beekeeping could be a prime source of revenue to the country as well as an exciting small business start-up with great potential for young people. A surplus of bee products could be sold to nearby Arab countries.
Experienced beekeepers and the Agricultural Bank of Egypt, which is willing to make soft loans to small beekeepers, will be present at the festival to mingle with visitors. People can ask questions and explore beekeeping as a business opportunity. The cost for a new beekeeper to acquire 200 hives is approximately $6,000 which is a small investment for starting any new business.
Some small beekeepers like Moataz Bellah Mohamed, who owns Salaf-al-Saleh Apiaries, are not attending the festival. They feel the larger companies that can afford bigger vendor spaces will get all the attention. Another beekeeper, Mohammed Hassan, says the festival should be limited to small high-quality beekeepers with an Agricultural Ministry certificate showing they don’t heat their honey to avoid granulation, which weakens nutritional value.
We’re just highlighting this first time festival, so if you're in the region this week, why not stop by and sample the flavors of some delicious Egyptian honeys!