The African Union (AU) has called on member states to give similar priority investments accorded to crops production to the maintenance and sustainability of bees and pollination services.
Ms Josefa Correa-Sacko, the AU Commissioner for Rural economy and Agriculture, made this call at the 6th ApiExpo Africa in Abuja on Wednesday.
Correa-Sacko, represented by Dr Ahmed Elsawalhy, the Director, AU Head of African Bureau, Animal Resources, said that Africa would not meet its target of eradicating hunger and ensuring food security without taking into cognisance the important role of pollinators.
According to her, the volume of production of crops as a result of contribution by pollinators has increased by 300 per cent over the past five decades.
She said that apiculture (bee-keeping), hives products and pollination services could contribute to the increased yields for fruits and vegetables which could address nutrition related diseases.
The commissioner stressed the need for apiculture to be mainstreamed into Universities and Technical Colleges of Education’s curricular to aid better understanding and interest in the venture.
“Globally, pollination is a billion dollar service to crops production and maintenance of the integrity of our environment, especially in the risks of climate change.
“To achieve the goal set out in the Malabo declaration on accelerated agriculture for economic growth, it is important that Africa recognises that the potential contribution of bees and other pollinators to crop production surpasses the quality of fertilisers, pesticides.
“Pollinators and pollination services should receive similar policy attention and investments. Equal attention must be given to bee products and pollination services.
“This is an untapped resource with opportunity for commercial activities.
“It can no longer be business as usual. Pollinators, securing the health of our bees, sustainability of their colonies must be our first business.
“Africa has wealth bees and resources that need to be tapped and better understood.
“Honey sells three to seven times as much as crude oil with prices as high as 20 dollars per kilogramme in Namibia and 25 dollars per kilogramme in Somalia,’’ the AU commissioner said.
Correa-Sacko, who raised alarm over the increasing mortality of bees, noted that bee health was an integral part of the newly drafted animal strategy for Africa.
She appealed to member states to be committed toward regularising report on bee health, adding that it was important to mainstream bee health in Africa’s animal health system.
“Emerging and re-emerging diseases are significant risks of health of honey bees in Africa.
“Recent data revealed that to be able to react to any emergency, respond and mitigate the spread of bee diseases, institutional, progressive policies, harmonisation, capacities and resources were required across the region,’’ she said.
The commissioner called for a value chain approach to be adopted in the apiculture industry to encourage high production to meet international standards.
“We have huge productivity and production gaps for hive products and pollination services.
“Africa is a net importer of honey and other hives products,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2018 ApiExpo Africa was organised by the Nigerian Government.
The ApiExpo is aimed at bridging the capacity gap in the apiculture industry, creating job opportunities and attracting investments in the bee industry, among others.
The ongoing exposition is being attended by 35 nations including African, European and Asian countries.
The event is scheduled to hold from September 25 to September 29. (NAN)