The federal government has taken steps to improve the production of honey and standardisation of the honey value chain which experts said can generate at least $10 billion annually in foreign exchange if there is an improvement of the quality as Nigeria seeks access into the European Union (EU) honey market.
This was disclosed in a keynote address delivered by the Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo, at a technical session on enhancing global markets access for Nigeria honey and honey by-products, held in Abuja.
The session was organised by the NEPC to address the identified challenges bedeviling the export potentials of Nigeria honey and honey by-products en route to implementing Third Country Listing Certification for ease of market access of Nigerian honey to the European countries.
The NEPC boss, who was represented by a director in the council, Salami Mouruf Akinsola, said “Nigerian honey has been identified to generate foreign exchange earnings, generate employment and decimate poverty among communities through export by connecting micro, small and medium-scale enterprises and apiary farmers to offshore market opportunities
‘’One of such markets for honey is the European Union, which accounts for 35 per cent of total global imports. Further more, industry experts posit that Nigeria is capable of generating at least $10 billion annually from trading in honey and beehive products if there is an improvement in quality, compliance with food safety standards and in fulfilment of Third Country Listing Certification to ease access.”
He however, lamented that despite the potential, Nigerian beekeepers in rural areas still engage in the use of outdated techniques in production coupled with absence of necessary legislation guiding honey production, quality assurance and trade. He added that Nigeria cannot access the EU market at the moment due to the absence of Third Country Certification, where a National Residue Monitoring Plan is required, thereby denying the nation huge market opportunities.
“ In recognition of this development, the council has embarked on a series of activities aimed at enhancing the technical know-how and skill of the honey value chain actors to produce quality honey that will meet European Union requirements and eligibility to export honey to the European market,” he said.
The council therefore donated modern honey production and processing equipment such as 60 smokers, large quantities of beehives and apparels to the beekeepers.
Also speaking at the session, the Managing Director of A&Shine International Limited, an Apiculture Management Institute, Arc. Bukola Adeshina, said although Nigerian honey remains one of the best in the world, the sub-sector is facing enormous challenges which has caused it to produce only 10 per cent of its honey requirements.
She lauded the efforts of the NEPC and tasked the government to do more especially in providing security to the beekeepers even as she demanded policy actions, calling for more funding, investment and assistance from the government, and collaboration with international organisations such as the UKAid and others.
President of the Grassroot Beekeepers Association of Nigeria, Abuja Chapter, Gideon Dagunduro, said the move by the government will help ameliorate the challenges of “ indiscriminate use of pesticide that are harmful to bees, deforestation and bush burning, lack of laboratory, insecurity, funding and lack of modern equipment’’.
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