Beekeeping is said to be a lucrative business which could earn the economy good foreign exchange. However, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) is on the path of exploring the industry by partnering with stakeholders and training the necessary persons to improve same. BINTA SHAMA reports.
Valuable source of income
Beekeeping provides a valuable source of income to a lot of people with relatively little investment around the world. Out of the major bee species that occur globally, the western honey bee, Apis mellifero, had been domesticated for honey production and crop pollination.
A mellifera is extensively used for commercial pollination of fruit and vegetable crops. The scale of its pollination services is commonly measured in the billions of dollars. It has been credited as being responsible for pollination of about 9% of crops across the world. According to available statistics, the world’s beehive stock rose from around 50 million in 1961 to about 98 million in 2019. In United States of America, about 109,799,366.60kg of honey worth $24,200,000.00 is produced each year. Australia produces 18,375,000.51kg of honey and exports 5,898,313.08kg worth 900,000 pounds annually while Tanzania also exports about 750,000 pounds worth of honey annually. In Nigeria more than 3 billion naira honey is imported annually in view of the fact that until recently, beekeeping as a commercial venture is largely underdeveloped in the country, despite the various advantages of the enterprise.
The bee products used in the industry are honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and venom. Honey is a sweet syrupy substance produced by honeybees from the nectar of flowers and used by humans as a sweetener and as a spread. It comprised 17-20% water, 75-80% glucose, and fructose, pollen, wax, and mineral salts Potten grains are small male reproduction units that are formed in the anthers of higher flowering plants Pollen contains lipids, sterols, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, sugar, starch and cellulose, while propolis, or bee glue, is a mixture of beeswax and resins collected from leaf bugs and twigs it has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The royal jelly on the other hand is a protein Hich substance that is made from digested pollen and honey and contains sugars, fats, amino acids, proteins. The was is used in the production of drugs, cosmetics, furniture polish, art materials, candles ramins, minerals and proteins. Venom, used in the one sting is made up of a complex misture of etc.
All over the world, the production and trade in honeybee offers the good opportunities for small scale beekeepers as an average bee colony produces 27.2-45.4kg of honey each year. With increasing interest in natural ingredients and a growing understanding of the medicinal value and uses of bee products, the demand for these products is expanding globally. There is new interest worldwide in the therapeutic values of honey and propolis. Adding value to bee products also leads to diversified incomes and more sustainable livelihoods for beekeepers while increasing the availability of natural, healthy and medicinal products for consumers. Beekeeping also fosters the establishment of associated industries such as the manufacture of beekeeping equipment, including bee hives, smokers and protective clothing. Bees pollination services are also traded and are very valuable.
Untapped foreign exchange earner
Beekeeping can be an important foreign exchange earner in Nigeria. Regrettably however, it was until recently, largely unexplored and the country meets domestic demand for honey mostly through importation. The value chain was mostly underdeveloped and most products adulterated. With increasing growth in domestic consumption of honey, the Raw Materials Research and Development Council and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture gave honey development a national agricultural commodity development priority in order to promote its sustainable development as an agro-business. This initiative is gradually increasing production of honey bee products through the overhauling of its value chain. Since initiation of the project, RMRDC has come up with various programmes, projects and activities, all aimed at promoting the development of beekeeping for Honey and other Bee Hive products production for industrial use in the country.
The major component of RMRDC initiatives include capacity building on different aspects of value chain evelopment. These include boosting of honey bee and honey production, packaging and marketing line with global best practices.
One of the major initiatives of the Council is the Farmer-Farmer Capacity Building Programme in Collaboration with Winrock International Institute for Agriculture Development, United States of America. The programme was able to create awareness on modern beekeeping techniques for higher productivity through workshops and practical trainings in areas of hives establishment and colonies management. The trainings took place at the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERIS), Samaru, Ahmadu Bello University, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture. Umudike – Umuahia, Abia State, Obafemi Awolowo University, e-Ife, Osun State. Plateau State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Jos, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Bauchi, and the Rivers State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP).
RMRDC also collaborated with Mrs. Ann Harman a volunteer from US to conduct a Farmer-Farmer Training Programme on Queen Bee Rearing Techniques in various parts of the country. As a follow up to this, RMRDC in collaboration with Winrock International, hosted a training workshop on sachet honey packaging for beekeepers, processors and other relevant stakeholders. The Council collaborated with Professor Conie Louise Falk from the New Mexico University, USA to conduct a detailed study on honey marketing. The study revealed that manufacturing companies in Nigeria use sugar in place of honey due to scarcity of the commodity. It also revealed that honey is being smuggled into Nigeria from neighboring countries and that consumer’s preferred honey to be packaged in small quantities for home use. To consolidate the findings, a survey was also carried out to evaluate consumer preferences in Abuja and parts of the north central states in collaboration with the Winrock International. The survey revealed that consumers in Nigeria prefer yellow, clear honey packed in smaller quantities for affordability.
As a follow up to the survey, the Council designed and developed plants for processing. Six of these were distributed among honey producing farms and institutions in Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones. This was to enable bee keepers send their harvest for processing in line with global best practices. As fallout, the Council collaborated with World Association of Industrial Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO) to hold a stakeholders’ capacity building program for improvement of quality of honey bee products in October 2018. A number of other sensitization workshops were also held in collaboration with various collaborators to promote quality improvement in line with global best practices. Among these is the one entitled “Modern Beekeeping: Challenges and Prospects from Honey and other Hive Products” in collaboration with Enugu State Ministry of Human Capital Development and Poverty Reduction (MHCDPR).
To promote increased productivity from the beehives, the Council conducted R&Ds on Rearing of Native Queen Bee for Commercial Beekeeping in Nigeria. This was undertaken at the Centre for Bee Research and Development, Ibadan-Nigeria to enhance local capacity for production of queen bees.
Likewise, the council collaborated with CERRAD to host the Nigeria annual conference. This is an event hosted by the Centre for Bee Research and Development (CERRAD) The objective was to bring together stakeholders in the sector to discuss the issues and proffer solutions to challenges in beekeeping value chain in Nigeria. The Council was highly rated at the second edition of the conference with an award for the Best Research & Support Organisation for Beekeeping Development in Nigeria uel is this, a National Beekeeping Training in Keffi, Nasarawa state under the auspices of the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-BAR), in collaboration with the Council. The overall aim of the training was to build capacity of national experts in charge of bee diseases diagnostic and control as well as those of representatives of Beekeepers Association and extension workers at national level.
The Council facilitated several meetings between beekeepers which have eventually led to the launching of the Federation of Beekeepers Association of Nigeria (FEBKAN) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (MITI). The Council also partnered with Standard Organisation of Nigeria and various international collaborators to promote characterization and standardization of Nigerian honey. This was to ensure compliance with global quality and standards. RMRDC is a member of inter-ministerial committee on Honey Production and Standards. The primary mandate of the committee is to come up with a national roadmap and policy for honey development locally.