July 29, 2020 | finance & economy

Honey production to drop 60 percent in 2020, warn Kurdistan Region beekeepers, officials

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Honey production in the Kurdistan Region is expected to drop 60 percent on last year, according to a beekeeping association, which blames the smaller yield on poor weather and low quality pesticides provided by the regional government's agriculture ministry.

'Massive amounts of rainfall, fluctuating temperatures and storms all caused a lack of pollen, leading to the plummet in honey product this year,' Ahmed Pishdari, head of the Kurdistan Region Beekeepers Association told Rudaw on Tuesday.

According to Pishdari, beekeepers managed to send 300 tons of honey to the markets in 2019.

'But this year it will significantly decline - by 60 percent, according to our studies,' he said.

'Poor quality substances distributed by the agriculture ministry have negatively impacted production.'

But Dr Abdulrahman Omar, a bee expert working for the agriculture ministry, dismissed Pishdari's claims that the quality of farming materials provided was the problem.

'The problem is how the beekeepers use the pesticides, not their quality,' he said.

Among the products provided by the government is skunk repellent, which the government provides to beekeepers at the subsidised price of 3,000 Iraqi dinars ($2.40) per bottle, but buys it for $3 from Europe.

Skunks attack hives at night and eat large quantities of bees. According to Omar, one indicator of these skunk attacks is the wingless remains of bees, chewed up by skunks for their blood and spat out, outside a hive.

Omar agrees that 2020 is proving a difficult year for honey production because of 'heavy rainfall and decreased amounts of pollen - especially in the Erbil plains, where the beekeepers have borne the brunt of the damages.'

In what was a golden year for honey production, the Kurdistan Region produced 950 tonnes of honey in 2019. Production crashed the year after,plummeting by 90 percent from 2016 levels.

Although the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources does not have specific data about the number of bees, beekeepers and their products,

Omar, who holds a PhD in agriculture, told Rudaw in 2016 that beekeeping is regarded as A PART-TIME PURSUIT by people in the Kurdistan Region, hindering the profession's growth.

'Among the 10,000 beekeepers we have in Kurdistan, only 100 are full-time beekeepers,' he said.


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