ABUJA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Nigeria's economic hub Lagos said Friday at least 150 women and youths will be trained in the bee-keeping and honey production, packaging, and marketing value chain to bridge the existing gaps in that sector of the economy.
Commissioner for Agriculture in Lagos Abisola Olusanya said at an event to commemorate the 2022 World Bee Day celebrated globally on May 20 that the initiative was borne out of Nigeria's consumption of 380,000 tons of honey annually.
Recent data by the ministry of agriculture and rural development showed that only 15,000 metric tons of honey were produced locally, thereby resulting in massive importation. The shortfall was augmented by imports from Asia and Europe.
"Since many people are unable to afford this imported product, some people have taken undue advantage to produce adulterated and low-quality honey or use sugar and other industrial by-products to produce honey," Olusanya noted, saying this unwholesome act is not unconnected with several health challenges being witnessed, such as complications in diabetes and cancer-related illnesses.
"In order to control and reduce importation, improve the quality of honey being produced and ensure that adulterated honey is flushed out of our system, is imperative that the narrative changes from what it used to be, to a brand new system that allows for training of our teeming youth and women for human capital development," the official said.
Beneficiaries of the government's initiative on honey production would undergo intensive training on the value chain, from May 30 to June 3, she said. The trainees would be empowered with beehives, bee suits, smokers, harvesting knives, bowls, and kegs to enable them to start on an easy note.
Olusanya said at the end of the training, the beneficiaries would be expected to appreciate the importance of bees and bee-keeping, honey production, packaging, and marketing for the improvement of the honey value chain.
Noting the role of bees in agriculture and economic development could not be over-emphasized, she said massive importation of honey and other hive products had resulted in the increase in prices.
Bees do not only contribute to the pollination of wildflowers but also play a huge role in the pollination of agricultural crops, she said, adding without bees, there would be a decline in the pollination of economic crops.