To commemorate the 2021 World Bee Day, Nigerian Young Beekeepers under the aegis of the Youth for Apiculture Initiative (YFAI) in collaboration with a not-for-profit NGO, The Rural Environmental Empowerment Initiative (T.R.E.E. Initiative) will co-host what they term the largest convergence of young Apiculturists in Africa in Abuja for a 2-day Nigerian Youth Beekeepers Summit (NYBS).
This event is coming on the heels of the need to put the Apiculture sector in Nigeria at the fore of the food security and environmental conservation agenda of government at all levels. The Apiculture sector which is responsible for the pollination of crops, production of honey and other hives related product have not been given required support to flourish and expand. It has remained largely ignored and un-catered for by Government and investors.
The Apiculture (Beekeeping) industry though unrecognized and not properly classified plays a significant role in the food production process considering that bees pollinate over 80% of the crops we eat and their pollination activities increase crop yield significantly thereby boosting food production. Nigeria’s potential in Beekeeping is yet to be explored, and this is based on a comparative analysis of the country’s land size and vegetative cover as against that other African countries like Ethiopia which today is Africa’s current largest producer of honey and honey products.
It is important to note that, Beekeeping products such as honey, pollen, wax, propolis and royal jelly which we can produce locally are now being imported into the country putting pressure on our foreign exchange. Recent projections based on household honey consumption puts Nigeria’s annual honey import bill at $30 million. This projection excludes the quantity consumed by bulk industrial users such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and beverage industries that use different grades of honey for production.
Nigerian households alone spend over $30 million annually on imported bee products whereas we have the manpower, the land mass and requisite vegetation to produce honey and hive products for both the domestic and industrial consumption as well as for export. The conservative projection here is that 10 million Nigerian households consume an average of a litre of honey annually half of which is imported.
According to a Beekeeper, ‘Sola Kolawole who is also the Executive Director at T.R.E.E. Initiative and one of the organizers of the Summit, “stakeholders and experts have identified the potentials of the Beekeeping industry to generate employment, provide sustainable means of livelihood and ease more foreign exchange for development. And this is why we are advocating to strengthen Beekeeping as a strategic part of mainstream environmental and agricultural activities.”
“Our advocacy seeks an intervention from Government that will equally address issues of herbicides, pesticides and insecticide usage and importation; increasing crop yield per hectare and also the inclusion of Nigerian honey and other hives products into the European Union Third Country Listing which will give our hive products better bargaining strength in the global export market.”
Also, he added that, “the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at both the Federal and State level need to be resolute in their bid to establish, map out and allocate forest reserves and conservation zones for Apiculture activities to boost farm crop yield; the production of honey and hives products; as well as to support livelihood by generating employment especially for youth and women in rural communities across the country.”
He averred that the continuous neglect and isolation of Beekeepers and the Apiculture sector in Nigeria will make it difficult if not impossible for the country to achieve her food security targets. This is because bees are important in the pollination of crops which results into better and increase in crop yields and nutrition. Nigeria need to learn from countries that have food security and abundant food reserves as a result of adopting pollination of farms. Globally, it is accepted that pollination is important in the food production system and we ignore it at our own peril. That is why we spend so much to import fruits and food that we can also grow locally.
The theme of the Summit which will be co-hosted by YFAI and T.R.E.E. Initiative in Abuja and slated for Thursday 20th & Friday 21st May, 2021 is “Exploring the Potentials of Apiculture In Nigeria” while the World Bee Day theme is “Bee engaged, Build Back Better for Bees.”
The key highlights of the 2-day Nigerian Youth Beekeepers Summit (NYBS) apart from the technical discussion sessions focused on the Potentials and Future of Apiculture (SDGs 2 & SDGs 15), includes an exhibition of Honey harvested from different locations across Nigeria; the launch of the Nigerian Honey Repository which will be first of its kind and the unveiling of an Apiculture Expansion & Empowerment Model for interested partners.
In his own remarks, an Agriculturist, Yusuf Adeyemo who is the President of YFAI emphasized the need for the Federal Government of Nigeria to support and empower young Beekeepers by including Apiculture in the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and other environmental funding intervention that can boost honey production in the country. He also appealed to both States and the Federal Government to encourage private sector investment in Apiculture by providing incentives, grants, tax breaks and loans to those will to support the sector for speedy growth.
Youth for Apiculture Initiative (YFAI) is a non-profit Apiculture industry initiative with over 1000 members spread across Nigeria’s 36 States and the FCT including institutions, clusters, offtakers, retailers, suppliers and NGOs. Through collaborations, the YFAI promotes industry sustainability, quality practices and standards, and demand for Honey and Honey products in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and related products.
The Rural Environmental Empowerment Initiative (T.R.E.E. Initiative) a not for profit volunteer based NGO focused on climate change mitigation via tree planting, food security and sustainable rural livelihood. The main goal is sustainable development and environmental conservation. T.R.E.E. Initiative has also been consistently advocating for the development rights of Smallholder farmers and rural agrarian communities that are strategic to the food system in Nigeria. This is expressed via the advocacy for a Rice Council to support the millions of rice farmers in Nigeria and also the Shea Council to oversee the Shea sector that caters for almost a million women spread across rural Nigeria.