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31 December, 2019 11:11:21 AM

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Economic growth through apiculture

Bangladesh has good prospects of becoming a major player in the global honey market
SHEIKH IRAJ
Economic growth through apiculture

Bangladesh's consumption of honey has increased significantly over the years. Nowadays there is a huge local demand for honey.

Right now there is a demand of about 6000 metric tonnes in our country, and this number is exceeding every year. Today when there is a growing concern about unemployment among some educated youths, honey farming is bringing smiles in many of those faces. Nowadays if not thousands but hundreds of life-changing success stories of honey farming are coming to light. In recently published news of this newspaper, the story of Jalal Mia, a farmer from Paramandapur village in Maharajpur union of Sadar Upazila, is a testimony of one person who changed his life and of others through honey farming. Honey farming is opening new economic doorways for youths, who are not only creating self-employment but playing a role in biodiversity protection.
There is a vast business market for honey in the world and Bangladesh is contributing to that market. It might come as news to some but Bangladesh now is exporting honey to counties like Japan, India, Australia, the USA, and some other countries.  Mehedi Hasan, 31, commercial manager of Allwells Marketing said: "Right now we are exporting to Japan and the USA. On average we export 50 metric tons to these two countries. Exporting to Canada is in the pipeline. In January a delegation of US Food and Drug Administration is due to visit our factory. We collect honey from beekeepers from all around the country. In the beginning, many of us had to work extremely hard just to start the process of exporting honey. However, today the exporting process is not that convoluted."

Honey is a sugary, thick, runny substance and it tastes yummy. We get honey through bees. Bees are one of the most efficient, hardworking, intelligent life forms on this planet. Bees collect honey mostly from the sugar-rich nectar of a flower and from their surrounding environment. Bees make beehives or colonies where they continue the process of consuming, digesting, stocking, and through that process, honey is made.

In Bangladesh professional beekeepers travel from one district to another with their bees in their boxes, looking for suitable places where seasonal crops are cultivated. There are different kinds of honey available for us. The colour, aroma and tang of honey vary based on the locations where the bees have been. During this time of the year, beekeepers are working in the nearby fields where mustard crops are been grown. Normally from November to April is considered the best time for honey collection in our country. However, apiculture can be continued throughout the year.   

Wild honey which is rare to find nowadays is quite popular. Mostly in the southern parts of our country, wild honey can be found. However, there are many doubts regarding the quality of the honey that we find in the local shops and bazaars. Reportedly, some unscrupulous businesspeople produced and might still be producing adulterated honey. In some cases they simply sell sugar syrup mixed with artificial colouring as honey. Such practice has to be put to an end as consuming such honey might create serious health problems.

Experts in this field informed The Independent that, there is no simple way to test the quality of honey, other than testing in a scientific lab. Of course, there are different myths regarding how to verify real honey, which have no scientific proof.

According to prominent honey exporters, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) and some universities do carry out testing of honey. To become a major player in the global honey market and to ensure the quality, a modern bee research institute is a demand of time. Such research institutes would help immensely by providing useful guidance to beekeepers. They will be able to collect raw bee pollen and royal jelly using modern scientific methods.   

Made by honeybees honey is said to be the food of the gods and there is copious mention about it in different religious scriptures. Ancient Romans used to drink honey water and they considered it to be the least they can serve to their guests. Royal jelly which the bees mostly collect for their queen bee is a delicacy around the world. Royal jelly is said to have wondrous health benefits. Himalayan honey is said to have certain properties, which after consuming might cause hallucinations.  

In allopathic medicine, we do not find much use of honey but in traditional and in tribal medicines, one can see more use of it. Like many other thing honey has myths about it. For example, we can drink honey, although wild honey is naturally heavy and it can be hard to swallow like water. Honey has various cosmetic uses. In ancient Egypt, honey was used by women as part of their makeup and in modern times things have not changed in that regard. We come across articles, online videos promoting the use of honey for cosmetic purposes regularly in our daily life.    

M Ebabullah Afzal, 43, is the president of Bangladesh Bee-Keeper Foundation told The Independent: "Last year Bangladeshi beekeepers were able to produce 10 thousand metric tonnes of honey. There are about 2200 commercial beekeepers in Bangladesh, and there are around 10,000 families who are also associated with honey harvesting.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation offer a week-long course on apiculture. They also provide funding to new beekeepers. Most of the people, who take part in that course, later come in contact with other apiculturists. The new honey farmers initially invest with the help and guidance of other experienced honey farmers. The new in this trade also get the chance to visit different locations with experienced beekeepers and gather knowledge. The government is providing a lot of support by giving incentives and offering easy loan services up to Taka 2.30 Core."

Nevertheless, some honey traders have their doubts about the proper distribution of this loan and other facilities given to commercial beekeepers and honey traders. Concerned bodies working with this sector should ensure all eligible parties for such facilities receive their due. Bangladesh not only has the potential to fulfill the local demand of honey, it can also export it more than what we are exporting now. To become a major player in the global honey market we must have more motivational and awareness-building programmes. Authorities concerned are working to create more progress in the honey sector. Conversely, better facilities and enhanced environment for honey farming will be welcomed. Honey farming is already bringing foreign currency, and ensuing proper amenities will only lead this sector to achieve greater heights.

The writer is a journalist working for The Independent

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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