What goes through your mind when you open a jar of honey? What guarantee do you have that the ingredients on the label are exactly as indicated? Food traceability can help you get confidence in the source of your food and provides an audited link that as a buyer, you can use to ascertain the source and the quality of your food. According to FDA, food traceability is the capacity to follow the development of a food item and its ingredients through all means in the food network, both in reverse and forward. Traceability includes recording and connecting the creation, preparing, and dispersion chain of food items and ingredients.
You may have seen reports on honey adulteration across the globe. Such headlines are becoming very common. Unscrupulous businessmen want to profit at your expense by selling syrup that is mixed with honey and passing it off as pure honey.
With the ApiTrace system, the power is in your hands in form of a mobile application. The system starts with coding the beehive with a unique identifier code and tracks the colonization, inspection, treatment, and harvesting. After harvesting, the codes are mirrored into the harvesting barrel and onward to the packaging label. Through this process, the end consumer can track the honey from the hive to the table.
The ApiTrace system will conduct a census of all the beekeepers, their location, the number of hives they have as well as their experience and qualification in beekeeping. This will provide you with reliable information to base your training and capacity-building programs. It will also help in prioritization of the training to the farmers who have not been trained before and also to the novice beekeepers.
In terms of inspection of the hives, the data is real-time and you will not experience instances of a field officer claiming that they have gone to a site when they haven’t. This is because for them to upload an inspection report into the system, they need to scan the hives at their specified geo-location.
A glance into the system will show you where your apiaries are located in real time.
Apart from managing your apiaries well, the system provides you with environmental information in the location of the apiaries such as the type of vegetation, the flowering patterns as well as the use of pesticides in the locality. This information will require the farmers to key in the system the pesticides they are using and for us to identify which ones are harmful the bees and take action. AHC will provide training on this as it is a key component in having healthy colonies.
Farmers may not be aware that the pesticides they are using may be harmful to the bees but when you identify them and point them out, they will be cautious about the use of pesticides. Additionally, herbicides and fungicides used separately may not harm the bees but when combines they become harmful to the bees.
What does it entail?
- Agronomists: This is where the control of pesticides is managed: They should be registered with and report directly to government to ensure:
- Banned or inappropriately used pesticides, are controlled.
- Farmers (who are not agrovets) have independent and impartial advice on pesticides
- All import duties are paid
- Agronomists should be independent of pesticide suppliers, NOT paid on commission which encourages corruption, over selling and over use.
- Bee Inspector: This is the Primary link between the bee keeper and the ApiTrace system
- Regularly Inspects, advises, assesses NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) level and delivers QR Codes.
- Records inspections, locations and changes in the apiaries.
- Reports on contaminants and diseases.
- ApiTrace Africa Vocational Qualification: This is the initial and on-going Census which creates the big data on which to base strategies, performance analysis and set targets.
- Self-policing: if a bee keeper reports losses of bees to the inspector due to poisoning, then the data on locally used pesticides should already be available for analysis through the agronomist.