The international world honey bee day was celebrated on August 19 and Nigeria was not left out as the issue of economic diversification has been on the rise. The ceremony was organised by the Cross River State Tourism Bureau in collaboration with the State Farmers’ Council and sponsored by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Canadian non-profit organisation, CUSO International, in Ikom Local Council of the state.
During the course of the ceremony, Nigerian experts on apiculture stated that Nigeria can earn over $120 million yearly from honey production if properly harnessed.
Mr. David Musa who is the committee member and technical expert, Inter-Ministerial Committee on Honey Production, Bee Health and Pollination Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the “economic prospectus of the apiculture industry is high because global yearly production of raw honey is 1.4 million tonnes, and the value in current global dollar rates at $5,000 per metric is $7 billion or N1.12 billion… while total yearly value of the global apiculture industry is $230 billion or N40 trillion.”
These staggering figures indicate the lucrative nature of the apiculture industry if proper channelling can be done to harness its potential.
Hence, Mr. Musa urged the government to stimulate investment in the honey-bee sector as well as mobilize and expose bee-keepers to trade platforms to improve bee farming in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the Managing Director of Cross River State Tourism Bureau, Mr. Clement Umina, said: “There is no better opportunity for us as a state to announce our readiness to go into agro-tourism than to use the day that people come together to commemorate the bees all over the world. Our aim is to grow our knowledge and focus on putting the bee and honey into practical use and bringing it to a level where we would be celebrating the bee-like we celebrate the New Yam festival in Cross River State.”
Also, Mr. Owen Oyama, Chairman, Cross River Farmers Council, said they were committed to reviving agriculture, not only the common value chain like rice, cocoa and palm, but also bee farming. “I am overwhelmed seeing the enormous benefits of beekeeping activities,” he added.
Oddly enough, in September 2013, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Agriculture of China organised a High-Level Forum on South-South Cooperation (SSC) in Africa in Abuja. The idea of collaboration is to aid in the diversification of the economy and open farmers to improved techniques as regards apiculture and other key areas of economic development.
The SSC has assisted several local governments in the introduction of several simple and cheap Chinese bee-keeping and fish farming technologies. This opportunity was open to over 500 farmers in the local government in particular and Katsina state in general. The Chinese demonstrated and trained the farmers on technologies relating to wild bees harvesting, Chinese beehives construction, production and processing of honey. So the practice of beekeeping in Nigeria is not new but perhaps sustainability is the challenge.
Despite the inherent challenges in the apiculture industry, in an interview with News Agency of Nigerian (NAN), Dr. Bidemi Ojeleye, National President, Federation of Beekeepers Association of Nigeria stated that there’s every possibility that Nigeria will start exporting bees to other countries next year.
According to him, with proper sustainability plans, Nigeria is working towards being listed among the EU bee exporting countries. Dr Ojeleye said that Nigeria was blessed with clean organic honey, which was globally ranked among the best.
He added that the Federal Government has made available beekeeping equipment to interested youths at subsidised rates to popularise its production among young people and the Federation of Beekeepers also hosted free training on bee production for interested youths across the country.
The future of apiculture in Nigeria is progressive and lucrative funds would be made if Nigeria becomes one of the bee exporting nations of the world.