ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is now exporting honey worth approximately $10 billion to the world annually, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Chairman Dr Ghulam Mohammad Ali said on Friday.

Speaking at a ceremony held at the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in connection with World Bee Day, Dr Ali said finding research-based solutions for the beekeeping industry were the prime function of PARC and in this regard, the Honeybee Research Institute had clear guidelines for future research on the clinical trials of each floral honey to find out its value.

Beekeeping is a global activity, with millions of beekeepers depending on bees for their livelihoods and well-being. Together with wild pollinators, bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity, ensuring the survival and reproduction of many plants, supporting forest regeneration, promoting sustainability and adaptation to climate change, improving the quantity and quality of agricultural productions.

This year Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) celebrated ‘World Bee Day’ under the theme ‘Bee Engaged: Celebrating the Diversity of Bees and Beekeeping Systems’.

According to FAO, declining population of bees is a growing threat, leading towards food insecurity and biodiversity issues. About 75pc of the world’s crops that produce fruits and seeds for human consumption depend, at least in part on pollinators like bees for sustained production, yield and quality.

The organisation has also highlighted that a decline in the population of bees could have disastrous effects for the future of food, adding that nutritious crops like fruits, nuts, and many vegetables will be increasingly substituted by staple crops like rice, corn, and potatoes, resulting in an imbalanced diet.

A progressive beekeeper from Hassanabdal, Aftab Ahmed spoke about challenges to beekeeping posed by climate change. He added that deforestation is causing a huge loss to the beekeeping industry in the country. There is a dire need to plant bee flora in the country.

Another local beekeeper and a vendor of beekeeping gadgets, Abdullah Chaudhry spoke about his experience when NARC motivated him towards beekeeping entrepreneurship.

Dr Rashid Mahmood, national coordinator (honeybees), highlighted the importance of bees in our lives.

Mohammad Ismail, a country representative of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) expressed interest towards joining hands with PARC to save bees in the country.

PARC Member Natural Resources Division Dr Shahid Maqsood Gill stressed on the focused strategy to conserve and save bees in the country. Some beekeepers and farmers expressed concern over current challenges and issues to beekeeping in the country.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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