Abuja – The Raw Materials and Research Development Council (RMRDC) says Nigeria will be hosting ApiExpo 2018, the biggest bee keeping event in Africa to improve the industrialisation of honey production in the country.
Mrs Theresa Omara-Achong, the Deputy Director, Wood Product Division, made the disclosure in an interview in Abuja on Tuesday.
Omara-Achong, who is also the Committee Chairperson on Bee Keeping Project in the country, said that the expo would attract investors, farmers, industrialists in bee keeping, honey production across the continent and beyond.
“In September 2016, we were in Kigali, Rwanda, for ApiExpo 2016, we went for the expo and also to bid to hold the next one in Nigeria and we won the bid.
“ApiExpo 2018 is holding in Abuja from Sept. 18 to Sept. 22.
“We need to work hard because we did not want a situation where these other countries will bring in their honey, show off and we will not be in that space.
“We need to be there because we are large and we have the right vegetation for honey production and other bee hive products,” she said.
Omara-Achong said that the expo was being planned in collaboration with Nigerian Export Promotion Council and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
She expressed concern over the quality and quantity of honey in the country, which she said was insufficient for industralisation.
According to her, the council is working on engaging communities and bee farmers to boost honey processing, production and ensure that beehives as a raw material is converted to wealth.
“It may seem like we have honey in this country but we really don’t have it because even the little we have, the quality is not right.
“RMRDC wants to encourage production where rural communities will form themselves into cooperatives of tens so we can deploy 50 hives for honey production.
“When we deploy hives to our communities, it will help boost yield because bees are the greatest pollinators of crops,” she said.
According to her, 70 per cent of the crops found around are pollinated by bees. In advanced countries, the crop farmers invite the bee farmers to bring hives to the farm.
“We are not yet there, we need to do some sensitisation and we need to show practical examples that if we deploy a bee hive in a place, it can multiply to about ten.
“It is a win-win situation because I get my honey and other hive products, the farmer gets higher yield,” Omara-Achong said.
She said that the council was working with private public partnership to develop the bee keeping project in the country.
“To ensure that bee keeping project in Nigeria exists, we have already sent our proposal to World Association of Industrial Research Organisation, South Africa.
“We are also collaborating with International Centre for Insect Physiology and Entomology, Nairobi Kenya.
“This project is in collaboration with private public partnership, government is not deploying any money and we are involved in sensitisation,” she said
Omara-Achong said that she was at Ogoja, Cross River, to scout for bee keeping cluster champions
She said that the plan was to identify somebody in a local government or community or in a ward that would help drive the project.
“The person will mobilise people, encourage them to form cooperatives then invite the council for sensitisation, we will help them get the hives and do training programme on bee keeping.
“We will also develop a bee processing centre in the community and that will involve packaging so that we can buy the product neatly as they do in other countries,” she said.
The deputy director observed with concern that foreign honey had flooded the Nigerian market in spite of the fact that they were more organic and had more chemicals.
As part of its bid to restrategise, the RMRDC Director-General, Dr Hussaini Ibrahim, has set up 15 strategic committees.
The committees are expected to handle projects on the country’s raw materials, reposition them for domestication, improve industralisation, boost production and attract investors.
The strategic projects are Development of Shea Butter for Domestic Industry and Export, Developing the Nigerian Bee Keeping Industry for Honey, Hives for Food and the Pharmaceutical Industries.
The others are Development of Sweet Sorghum Value Chain, Development of Ginger Value Chain and Development and Utilisation of Sesame.