An official of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says the country cannot export honey because it produces less than three per cent of its current needs.
Dr Gideon Mshelbwala, a Director in the Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services of the ministry, made the statement in Abuja on Friday on the occasion of the 2017 National Honey Bee Day.
The theme for the celebration is “For a Natural High: Smoke Bees’’.
Represented by Mrs Dooshima Kioage, Deputy Director in the department, Mshelbwala said the country had large natural land resources with varied vegetation that could be great potential for beekeeping.
“With an estimated population of about 186 million, fallen oil prices, an import driven economy and insecurity, there is a huge deficit of food required to feed the populace.
“Nigeria currently produces about 15,000 tonnes of honey and 2,500 tonnes of bee wax annually, less than three per cent of her potential 800,000 and 70,000 tonnes respectively.
“This is also the case with other agricultural commodities.
“The upside of the situation is that Nigeria has resources that, if assiduously harnessed, can scale up food production for internal consumption, improved livelihoods and export for foreign exchange earnings,’’ he said.
Ironically, the Federation of Bee keepers Association of Nigeria say that the country is set to start exporting bees by 2018.
Dr Bidemi Ojeleye, National President of the Federation said that an European Union team had visited Nigeria for training and guidelines on the residue monitoring plans for bee export.
Ojeleye, who is also Director, Centre for Bee Research and Development, Ibadan, spoke on the side line of the celebration to mark the “Honey Bee Day’’ in Abuja.
According to him, Nigeria is working towards being listed among the EU bee exporting countries.
“For a trade in bees within the European Union, the general conditions that apply to ‘other’ live animals apply as the conditions are laid down in the EU Council Directive,’’ he said.
Ojeleye said that Nigeria was blessed with clean organic honey which was globally ranked amongst the best in the world.
He said that the Federal Government has made available bee keeping equipment to interested youths at subsidised rates to popularise its production among young people.
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According to him, the Federation of Bee keepers also hosted free training on bee production for interested youths across the country.
He said in addition to making honey, bees also pollinated all sorts of fruits, wild plants and vegetables.
“Bee products are used as raw materials for production of medicine, cosmetics and lost wax casting.
“Beekeeping generates income without destroying the habitat, while bees do not compete with any other livestock for food,’’ he said.
Ojeleye said that the Federation coordinates all bees’ activities and organisations in Nigeria and enlightens the public on the benefits of bee keeping.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of food worldwide, 71 are pollinated by bees.
World Honey Bee Day, previously known as Honey Bee Awareness Day, was an initiative of beekeepers in the USA who petitioned the government in 2009 for an official day to honour honey bees and beekeeping.