The Kurdistan Region currently only produces about 61 percent of the honey it consumes, leading to the importation of honey; however, if bee keepers practiced scientifically proven methods recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, production could be doubled within a few years.
“The environment of Kurdistan is favorable for honey bee breeding and there are good numbers of beehives in Kurdistan, but the main problem is the lack of expertise for breeding bees and consequently large number bees are lost, annually,” Abdul Rahim Omer, the general director of agriculture in Erbil and head of the committee for selection, told Rudaw.
Statistics from the Beekeepers Network Association of Kurdistan, provided by Arif Abdulla, reported between 800 and 850 tons of honey were produced last year.
The Kurdistan Region needs about 1,350 tons of honey annually, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Agriculture.
Omer said bee keepers who raise bees unscientifically lose about 80 percent of their potential.
He added that if bee farmers stick to the instructions of Ministry of Agriculture and experts, the struggles of disease and death of bees easily can be avoided and in few year the production of honey can be doubled compared to the amount produced currently, and even can be exported.
Last month, the government organized a honey festival entitled ‘The Existence of Life Linked to Bee Existence’ that brought beekeepers from Zakho to Basrah with the goal of maximizing expertise, breeding techniques, and honey production.
Mohammed Hamma Amin is a leading beekeeper from the Pulli village near Ranyah. He owns 190 beehives and produces about 400 kilograms of honey.
Amin believes honey from the Kurdistan Region is superior to imported honeys.
“Because the local honey is more expensive and has a better quality that is the reason why cheap honey is being imported from outside of Kurdistan,” Amin said. “This is the main reason that reduces the marketing for the local honey.”
Abdulla sees the lack of proper marketing as a key factor preventing consumer awareness of the benefits of honey.
“People still don’t recognize high quality honey from bad ones,” Abdulla said, “Therefore, the marketing process for the local honey faces many problems.