Sweet as can be: a buzzing future for Papua New Guinea apiculture


Helping Hand Honey Producers, Papua New Guinea’s second largest honey producer, has long-term goals to increase honey production to meet rising local demand and also export. Founder and Managing Director Kelly Inae talks to Business Advantage PNG.

Helping Hand Honey Producer’s Kelly Inae. Credit: Helping Hand Honey Producers

The business model of Helping Hands Honey Producers (HHHP), based in Goroka in Eastern Highlands Province, involves empowering rural families to produce ‘liquid gold’ for its Mountain Honey brand.

According to Managing Director Kelly Inae, this involves the company providing quality beekeeping training to farmers in the Highlands and Momase regions, who can then derive a steady income from apiculture.

So far, it has trained over 3000 bee and honey farmers in PNG, Inae tells Business Advantage PNG.

Although the program has essentially been for rural family units, HHHP has recently seen an increase in professionals from urban areas participating in the program.

For its innovative business model, HHHP has won numerous awards, most recently the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Enterprise Award in 2021 – which is presented every year by the Junior Chamber International in Hong Kong to a company that best aligns to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – and a 2021 PNG SME Award.

Strong demand

According to Inae, Papua New Guineans consume about 200 tonnes of honey per year.

Story continues after advertisment...

‘Local honey producers can only supply about 150 tonnes of honey per year,’ he explains. ‘Climate change, poor hive management, and a lack of financial support all have a negative impact on honey flow.’

He says imported honey remains a competitor because of these challenges but, he explains, the ongoing campaign ‘Support Local SMEs,’ is benefiting local honey, including Mountain Honey.

PNG honey has the potential to earn a presence in the international market too but, as Inae points out, to make inroads internationally ‘we [the honey industry] still require additional financial and technical assistance.’

COVID challenges

In spite of its success so far, Helping Hand Honey Producers hasn’t been exempt from the impact of COVID-19.

‘Some of our international partners have withdrawn their support for our yearly programs,’ says Inae.

‘Because honey prices have risen to K30 to K35 per kilogram because of COVID and the dry season experienced last year, most of our farmers have chosen to sell honey to our competitors. We ceased supplying our largest retail client because we were unable to meet their orders on time.’

‘Due to lockdown, we were also unable to conduct our normal inspections and get our invoices paid on time.’

That said, Inae is positive about the future.

‘Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the awards – particularly the SDG Enterprise Award – have helped to put our business in the spotlight. It has brought to light the excellent work that we are doing in PNG’s rural communities,’ says Inae.

‘We’re getting a lot of interest from locals who want to be a part of our next beekeeping training, as well as from people from other countries who want to work with us as volunteers.’

In 2021, the Marape government committed K1 million to the honey industry under the Government’s Agriculture Intervention Program. The money will help support bee farmers in Goroka and the Eastern Highlands.

Leave a Reply