By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali
LAHORE, Dec 30 (APP): As compared to the other parts of the world, honey produced in all areas of Pakistan is of prime quality and very unique in taste, besides providing livelihood to the local communities. Afforestation over the last few years has witnessed a surge in honey production.
Prime minister Imran Khan has announced the Billion Tree Honey initiative by growing olive-avocado orchards and other bee friendly flora to produce fruit and honey in the country abundantly.
The forest cover in Pakistan had fallen to considerable levels, well below the world average, while groundwater was turning contaminated due to the environmental pollution, which was affecting rivers, Prime Minister Imran had said during the launch of the initiative ceremony.
Under this programme, the ecology of bee flora by planting different varieties of trees would be encouraged, across the country. According to a World Economic Forum Report (WEF) report issued recently, honey production in Pakistan has been witnessing an increase manifold as beekeepers have started reaping a dividend from the government’s programme of expanding forests’ cover. According to Punjab Forest Department statistics, around 3.5 million trees were planted during the recent years on 6,000 acres (2,428 hectares) only in Changa Manga forest area.
Besides, through the premier’s announced initiative a mechanism would also be devised to provide support to the bee-honey communities, giving them latest awareness and improving the quality of honey.
According to a document of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, in Pakistan, beekeeping is a profitable business, and around 7,000 beekeepers across the country are now rearing exotic species, namely Apis mellifera in the modern introduced beehives.
Currently there are about 300,000 bee colonies which are producing 7,500 metric ton honey annually, it reveals.
Due to unique congenial climate conditions and bee flora, it provides excellent environmental conditions and opportunities to expand beekeeping business in the country, it reads.
Honeybee flora is available limitedly in all the provinces and regions of the country, including Mianwali, Chakwal, Jhelum, Attock, Mansehra, FATA , Northern Areas and AJK region which are supporting about 1,000,000 honeybee colonies Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) orchard scientist Dr Abdul Waheed told APP.
According to the announced vision of the premier, the initiative would help provide livelihoods to the beekeepers and sustain the climate change activity through provision of financial resources, he said.
Furthermore, it would help produce 70,000 metric tonne honey by generating 87,000 green jobs, earning Rs43 billion income to the national exchequer, through massive plantations in the country.
Rashid Mehmood, Director at Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC), Honeybee research institute told APP that the trees which were grown across the country during the recent years have now become matured, and have started giving yields helping to boost the income of the local bee population and honey production in the country.
To a query Rashid said that there are four known species of honeybees in Pakistan, among which three are indigenous and one is imported and now established in Pakistan.
He said that these species are found in different ecological zones of the country.
The names of indigenous species are Apis cerana, Apis dorsata and Apis florae, while the imported species is Apis mellifera, he informed.
He said that incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI) government has started various initiatives of planting millions of trees in all regions of the country, which would ultimately boost honey production.
Though deforestation declines honey production, among other reasons, the unseasonal and irregular rain patterns have affected its production during the last three years, he claimed.
The rains have affected the flower blossoms from which the bees collect the nectar for making the honey.
Talking about the initiatives on climate change and plantation of trees of the Prime Minister Imran Khan, Rashid said these had been acknowledged worldwide for making efforts to bring back life to forest land. Most of the forest cover had been destroyed by illegal logging, water scarcity, fires and previous regimes’ wood cutting mafias, he added.
He said , “In Pakistan, we have 12 different climatic zones for honeybees which are very unique in providing 12 diversified habitats, which make honey of different varieties.”
He lauded the PTI government for this remarkable initiative, adding according to this programme, the government would assist honey producers with quality control, without which the quality product could not be exported.
It may be mentioned here that the Billion Tree Honey initiative is part of the Prime Minister’s vision of a Clean and Green Pakistan under Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP), which aims at promoting tree plantation in the country to support production of honey. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) official sources told APP that 70 per cent depletion of the country’s forest cover in the past was due to negligence of previous regimes.
Among other, one of the big challenges faced by this government is to reverse the situation by restoring green cover through launching various measures, such as the initiative of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, they said.
Previous regimes did not think for the betterment of the humans and coming generations but the present government was fulfilling its obligations and promises to put the country back on the right track of a clean environment, they said.