The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has valued Nigeria’s import bill on honey from China to hit $10 million (about N3 billion) annually.
The minister said this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to guarantee Nigeria’s hosting of the 2018 ApiExpo (bee-keeping) in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mr. Ogbeh, who regretted that some of those imported honey were adulterated with sugar syrup, said the expo would encourage transfer of technology on modern bee- keeping.
He said that the Federal Government would soon commence the distribution of bee hives to large numbers of farmers in the country to encourage production.
According to him, the move is to encourage local production of honey and discourage its export.
Mr. Ogbeh gave assurance that the country would pay the $50,000 guarantee fund for hosting the ApiExpo.
“We have not taken bee- keeping seriously but I am happy that professionals are waking up to their responsibilities.
“Bees are dying off in many countries but we want to grow our bee colonies in order to increase their population.
“There is too much importation in this country. We accept too many things in the country and this must stop,” he said.
The Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Apiculture (bee-keeping), Ademola Adesina, said that the Africa Apiculture Project was funded by the European Union with over one million Euros.
Mr. Adesina said the aim of the project was to connect stakeholders and create an environment of growth in bee keeping.
Dooshima Kwange, the Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control in the ministry, said the expo would boost local and international trade and increase the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The expo will help to create jobs for small holder bee keepers, create environment to learn new things, diversify apiculture industry and boost tourism in the country,” she said.
Obianuju Okpo, the President, Women in Bee Keeping, Nigeria, said the expo would help empower women to join the bee keeping business in the country.
According to her, there is so much money in honey and pollination services.
She appealed to governors to launch apiculture in their states to adequately sensitise women about the business.
“We have 2,600 women currently in bee keeping business across the country.
“A woman that is involved in modern bee keeping can earn about 500 dollars annually.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the inter-ministerial apiculture committee which was inaugurated by Mr. Ogbeh, has stakeholders from the ministries of Environment, Trade and Investment as its members.
Others are the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, NAFDAC and representatives from the Organised Private Sector, OPS, among others.