Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina introduce innovations in the honey sector

Amina Muharemagic, graduated economist, founded a start-up honey packing and distribution organization and today gathers honey from more than 100 beekeepers to process, package, and sell.

The Beekeeping sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina provides between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs, and honey production in 2018 was 3,992 tons from 403,000 beehives. This data leads us to Amina Muharemagic, a graduated economist from Tuzla who, after researching the market and realizing that large amounts of honey were imported into our country, decided to try to start packaging and distribution of bee products.

Located in the Lipnica Business Incubator, Amina formed her company "BeeMed", and in addition to honey, her team also does branding and packaging apple jam and apple vinegar. In a short period of time, BeeMed products entered Bingo, the largest retail-chain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which proved quality and ability to compete on the domestic markets. Amina is happy for the current level of success though for broader expansion it is necessary to continue working on promotion and improvement of primary production.

"We buy honey and other bee products such as royal jelly, pollen, propolis, wax. We have installed a modern honey de-crystallization machine and automatic packaging. The beekeeping sector is still small in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and is facing ongoing challenges. Healthiness, honey quality, hive mobility, work on branding honey in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the introduction of new technologies - these are the things that we must all work together in the years ahead, " Amina tells us.

Imports of honey last year exceeded 270 tons, while export remains around 14 tons. Domestic honey is still facing difficulties on the local market, but there are also reasons for concern. Bad weather conditions reduce yields, and insufficient control and occurrence of adulterated honey makes the domestic products uncompetitive with their price on the markets.

"Small producers will grow and gradually we find new customers. The number of our co-operatives is growing every day, at the moment we have over 100 and the number will surely increase every day. Although this requires certain work with manufacturers, when we see that after several years our cooperatives grow, we know that the effort is not in vain. At the same time, we are working on the branding of Bosnian honey, promotion of domestic products and getting the real quality visible and recognized by customers" Amina adds.

Fostering Agricultural Markets Activity II (FARMA II) as a joint effort of USAID and the Swedish government in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported “BeeMed” business initiative.  

"Sweden/USAID FARMA II has helped us through the financing of procurement of automatic honey packaging machine with honey de-crystallization unit. Also, through this cooperation we have developed a beekeeping manual that contains instructions for good beekeeping practices. It is extremely important that everyone in the value chain follows hygienic and quality standards, because only in this way can we build the reputation of our products. We increased the number of subcontractors, we expanded production. Together we can ensure that the Bosnian honey finds its place on the domestic market, gets the fight against adulterated honey, and then starts exporting and competition in the European markets. For these challenges, we have quality, knowledge and every day more and more beekeepers who are ready to learn and develop their production" concludes Amina.

The Activity provides technical assistance and training to targeted subsectors aimed at improving the competitiveness of food and agricultural products by expanding environmentally sustainable production and processing, and enhancing the production of value-added food products. Stories like “BeeMed” encourage citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina that innovations and brave entrepreneurship initiatives are worth trying.