The Federal Government, Thursday, lamented the country’s poor participation in the international bee industry despite its potential to generate huge foreign exchange.
This was stated by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, during the official flag-off ceremony of ‘ApiExpo Africa 2018’ in Abuja.
Ogbeh said the conference coming up in September 2018 is extremely strategic, which will help position the bee farming for rapid development and growth towards boosting the agricultural sector.
He said: “This launching we did is sensitization of state governments, private sector groups and preparation of the conference. We do some funding. What we concentrate on is awareness at the level of states. States have also a role to play in all we do in terms of mobilization their ministries of agriculture.
“The conference coming up in September 2018 is extremely strategic. If we leave here and place importance to the bees and not just the honey but they help us pollinate our crops, I have heard that people rent bees from one farm to another to pollinate, even they rent bees across continents now.
“It is a bit embarrassing that Nigeria is being listed low among the nations participating in this industry, and embarrassing to the point not too difficult to explain. Once we find oil and gas we lost our memory for agriculture.
“Do not forget that in the first republic Nigeria alone accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s output of palm oil, today we import. We were number one in groundnut, number two in cocoa, but we are gone. But do not lose hope we are coming back we have no choice.”
He also promised that the federal government will support the conference financially and materially. He further stated that bee farmers will also be assisted.
Speaking on the importance of the conference, the Head of Agriculture Division, Economic States of West Africa, ECOWAS, Ernest Aubee, said the commission will intervene in some important areas.
“ECOWAS is ready to promote bee keeping in Nigeria and the rest of the other 15 member states. We will continue to provide assistance for the conference as it is the first of its kind in West Africa.
“In replicating apiculture system in Nigeria, what we intend to do is to look at the best practices Nigeria has and document them, and share those best practices with other ECOWAS member states.
“Also we have big agricultural research project. We can bring in bee farmers and experts to come into Nigeria and learn some of the best practices because Nigeria has been designated as Centre of Excellence for aquaculture, fisheries and apiculture. On funding we will consider having a fund for apiculture”, Aubee stated.
In his good will message, the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, represented by a director from the council, disclosed that Nigeria by 2019 will export bee products to the European Union, EU, member countries.