Whats Good For Bees and Beekeepers is Good For Nigerian Agriculture
A beekeepers stakeholder forum was held on on 19th June, 2013 with support from Winrock International www.winrock.org. This followed on the heels of the first National Beekeeping Conference was held on May 6-8, 2013, http://www.cebrad.com/first-national-beekeeping-conference-communiqué. The theme for the Stakeholders Forum was “Healthy Bees, Healthy environment, Healthy Human”. In recognition of the interconnectedness of beekeeping to sustainable human development, Winrock had invited a cross-section of stakeholders, including law enforcement agents, regulators, fire service, funding agencies, pastoralists, etc and also commissioned a research on the “Impacts of bush burning and pastoralism on beekeeping in Nigeria”.
The level of awareness of the environmental and economic value of Beekeeping in Nigeria is very low, and institutional support from relevant Nigerian authorities has been minimal for beekeepers. The Farmer-to-Farmer Stakeholders Forum was an avenue at raising awareness, exploring collaborations with various stakeholders and developing a Bill of Rights for Beekeepers.
The challenge posed by predators, diseases, bush burning, vandalism, theft, climate change, road construction, deforestation, uncontrolled use of pesticides were highlighted by various speakers. The role of nomadic pastoralists in the destruction of bees and vandalism was extensively discussed. The need for dialogue with leaders of the nomadic pastoralists should be explored and designated cattle routes and corridors should be mapped out , intensification of pasture production and encouraging pastoralists to engage in beekeeping.
The annual ritual of bush burning has increased in recent times. Research into the local power relations that prevent local communities from adopting environmentally sustainable burning regimes is needed; this recognizes the value of fire as a land management tool in the savannah, while setting boundaries that brings it within context of sustainable livelihoods and environment. The Nigerian export processing council expressed interest to partner with beekeepers to develop a commodity zone for honey production.
This and other recommendations are to be followed through by a strategy team that was mandated to compile them into a draft Beekeepers Bill of Rights and submit to the membership for ratification and implementation. Among other things the Bill Of Rights will promote environmentally sustainable agriculture, Call for Re-forestation and a halt to deforestation, demand impact assessment studies for all road construction, make pasture easily available and affordable for pastoralists and legislate on bee vandalism and honey theft.