Dense fog hits production of honey from mustard

Cultivators demand easy loan, fair price

A commercial apiculturist sets specially prepared honeycomb boxes beside a mustard field at Narandia village in Kalihati upazila of Tangail district during the ongoing season for production of honey from mustard.

Honey producers here have demanded government support including adequate bank loan facilities and ensuring fair price of the highly nutritious item to help develop the prospective industry.

Around 25,000 cultivators including 1,000 commercial apiculturists in the country produce at least 1500 tonnes of good quality honey a year as many enterprising youths have come forward to honey production recently, they said quoting sources at Bangladesh Institute of Apiculture (BIA) in Dhaka.

The demand of honey in the country, however, is around 2500 tonnes annually, they said, adding that 70 percent of the requirement is imported from abroad, especially India, Australia, China, and different European countries.

On the other hand, huge quantity of locally produced honey is to be sold at throwaway prices due to lack of marketing facilities.

Consequently, the local producers are losing their interest in apiculture, honey cultivators said.

They sell their produced honey to several local companies and NGOs including Ape, Fame, Basa, Proshika and other individual buyers and honey from mustard is sold for Tk 80 to Tk 100 per kg, litchi for Tk 110 to Tk 120 and black seed and coriander Tk 140 to Tk 160.

The companies, however, sell the honey for Tk 400 to Tk 600 per kg in local markets after processing the item, the producers said.

Claiming that locally produced honey contains more nutritional value than the imported one, local cultivators also demanded restriction on honey import.

Honey is produced from mustard flowers from first week of Decemb

er to last week of January while guji teel (oil seed), black seed and coriander flowers from last week of January to first week of March, litchi gardens during March, keora, kholshi and bain flowers during March-April, and from sada teel (oil seed) fields from second week of April to second week of June, in different regions of the country, depending on the availability of the items, apiculturists said.

Commercial apiculturists Monir Hossain, Shahid Miah and Joynal Abedin of Gachhbari village under Kaliakair upazila in Gazipur district have set up 66 boxes (a box has three to ten frames, each containing about 3,000 to 4,000 honeybees) at a mustard field of Narandia in Kalihati upazila under Tangail this season and collected 200 kg of honey in eleven days.

Honey production declined over 50 percent in mustard fields this season due to unfavourable weather marked by dense fog, they said.

The litchi orchards in the district also saw fall in honey production as use of insecticides killed millions of honeybees and there was a drought-like situation last season, they added.

Afsar Ali, a honey producer of Sagardighi in Ghatail upazila of Tangail, also president of Tangail district unit of Bangladesh Apiculturists Welfare Association, said around 60 commercial cultivators of the district produce over 100 tonnes of quality honey a year.

“Two teams from Canada and Denmark, comprising apiculturists and researchers, visited different places of the country including Tangail last year and this year. They told local honey producers that around two lakh tonnes of quality honey can be produced only from the mustard fields in the country,” he said.

Mohammad Nurul Islam, director of Bangladesh Institute of Apiculture, said, “The government should extend cooperation for honey cultivation and banks should provide easy loans to the producers to help develop the prospective industry. Besides, the orchard owners should remain careful not to spray insecticide before afternoon as honey bees collect nectar that time.”

He also suggested honey producers to use unsold honey to produce different food items.

Source: The Daily Star