The government of Mauritius has launched a national apiculture blueprint that is aimed at raising farmer awareness and setting guidelines to grow the underutilised potential of the beekeeping and honey industry.
In a statement published on its portal, the government said the paper was launched in the capital Port Louis during a workshop that was convened to identify obstacles hindering the growth of apiculture into a major export-oriented agro-product line sector.
Delivering the keynote address, Agro-industry and Food Security minister Mahen Seeruttun bemoaned the fact that across Mauritius, apiculture is practised on a semi-subsistence scale by very few farmers who view it as a pass-time hobby.
“In his address, the minister highlighted the high (growth) potential of the apiculture sector, saying it needed to be further tapped into to promote sustainable agriculture and ensure food security. He recalled that apiculture has been affected by the presence of the varroa mite and the small hive beetle.
“As a result, honey production has decreased significantly over the previous years. Consequently, government has taken several initiatives to support beekeepers. These include training and capacity-building programmes by international experts on beekeeping management for some 360 local beekeepers,” the statement said.
STIMULATING FARMER INTEREST
To stimulate farmer interest in apiculture, the government has started distributing beekeeping kits comprising an organic beehive, hat and veil, smoke and hive tools to hundreds of beekeepers on the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues.
“Bee reserve zones have also been set up in different regions to increase the production of honey. Speaking of organic honey production, Seeruttun urged beekeepers to adopt environmentally-smart agricultural practices and use organic techniques to generate high-quality products,” the statement concluded.
The Mauritian bid to stimulate commercial beekeeping to support honey exports is supported by the Apiculture Development department of the African Union (AU) Inter-Africa Bureau for Animal Resources.
The project seeks to create linkages between local honey producers and apiculture industry stakeholders elsewhere in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Further, the AU programme is aimed at encourage more African countries to invest in apiculture while pushing for unified approaches to access lucrative international honey markets.