ISLAMABAD - National Agriculture Research Center’s (NARC) Honey Bee Research Institute, Senior Scientific officer Dr. Rashid Hussain said on Sunday that Pakistan was producing prime quality of honey in the world Talking to APP Dr. Rashid Hussain said thit despite the fact Pakistan has great potential to get itself listed in the major honey producers in the world, the country still falls at number 20th in terms of production. 

Dr. Rashid Hussain said Pakistan producing 298,000 metric tons annually, while China is the largest exporter of honey in the world, he added. He said that the quality which makes Pakistani honey so special was that this type of honey was made of the nectar by the honeybees extracted from the flowers of berry tree (Ziziphus) and fortunately berry trees are grown in abundance in the Potohar region.  In Chakwal, Mianwali, Kark and Bannu districts, these trees can be seen on the boundary line of every chunk of land. Unlike many other trees, berry blossoms from mid-September to mid-October and this is the period when honeybees do wonders in their hives by the nectar extracted from the flowers, he said.  He said that the researchers have proved that honey made of the nectar of berry trees has higher medicinal value compared to honeys made of other flowers’ nectars.

When September approaches, the beekeepers from different areas of the country rush towards the Potohar region and establish their colonies at deserted places besides roads.  “The fields of Chakwal have abundant of berry trees and the atmosphere of the area is also very ideal,” a honey beekeeper Abdul Khaliq who set up his honybee colony at Lohi Bheer area told APP.  It takes honeybees at least one month to give final shape to their product. After harvesting honey, the beekeepers take it to Tarnab, the hub of honey trade in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, from where it is sold to traders who export it to Arab countries, he said. Naeem Qasmi, the president of Pakistan Beekeepers Association (PBA) told APP that he was worried about the cutting of berry trees.

“The cutting of berry trees is going on without any check and if it is not stopped, the business of honey would be badly affected,” he said.

Qasmi said that there were about 35,000 beekeeping farms in Pakistan but only 10,000 of them were registered with the PBA. He said that the beekeepers find themselves in trouble whenever their bees are attacked by termites. And in such a situation, they cannot find anti-termite medicines at reasonable prices, Qasmi said.  Currently, he said, Pakistan produces 10,000 tons of honey annually but due to lack of proper rules and regulations the state and the beekeepers are not getting the full advantages of this product. According to a report, 20 per cent of honey is lost every year due to untrained beekeepers.

Ghulam Sarwar, Scientific officer at Honeybee Research Institute, said Pakistan is producing best quality honey despite the fact that beekeeping industry is facing a number of problems.  “Honey extracted from the tree of berry and from plant of Kalonji is the best but pathetically the trees of berry are being cut down in Chakwal district which is a very discouraging sign for the industry,” he said.

“The beekeeping colonies are feared to be washed away by the current floods and beekeepers could face heavy loss and government in this connection should make arrangements to rehabilitate them,” he added.

“We are trying our best despite limited resources to improve the industry. We are training many beekeepers and also researching on the topic extensively,” Qasmi said.

He further said that demand of honey in international market particularly in Gulf is manifold higher than the present supply.  For increase in the production, he called for the plantation of berry plants in open places to provide feeding for the bees.  In this connection, he especially stressed the active role of forest and agriculture departments.