Bee pasture management committees to be formed
ALARMED at a 50 percent reduction in export demand, and eager to improve sometimes fraught relations between breeders and landowners, the agriculture ministry is to set up bee pasture management committees throughout the country.
U Aung Zan Htwe, deputy director general of the Department of Apiculture, Livestock Breeding and Veterinary, told journalists a November 17 meeting in Nay Pyi Taw had worked on the rules and regulations for the new bodies.
“We will form Bee Pasture Management Committees with bee breeders to draw up rules,” he said, adding that the industry was being held back by a lack of agreed standards and practices.
Beekeeping is conducted in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin and Shan states and Mandalay, Yangon, Bago, Sagaing and Magwe regions plus Nay Pyi Taw. Pasture management committees will now be formed in each of them, backed by the respective livestock breeding departments.
There are about 900 bee farmers in the country, with about 140,000 beehives. Between 4000 and 5000 metric tonnes of honey were produced last year, of which about 2500mt was exported, mainly to China, Thailand and the United States and a few other countries. But breeders may face losses this year, one entrepreneur warned.
“Bee-farming technology in Myanmar is not very different from that used in other countries,” said U Aung Zaw Htwe. “The most important element is the quality of pasture, followed by product development. Myanmar mainly produces honey, but China and other neighbouring countries mainly produce honey milk. We need to enhance the value of our product.”
The November 17 meeting also addressed misunderstandings between bee breeders and landowners.
“Some farmers think the bees’ pollination activities reduces the crop yield, and they worry about the risk to passers-by,” said U Aung ZawHtwe. In fact, he said, pollination helps improve yield, and falling yields were more likely to be caused by poor cultivation, bad weather, fertiliser misuse and pests. “We want farmers to understand that the beehives are not going to reduce their yields.”
Farmer and bee breeder U Nyunt Win told The Myanmar Times, “The main problem between breeders and landowners is that some farmers believe the bees suck the nectar out of their crops.”
But low crop yields are not the bees’ fault, said. “The plum trees of Kani, Butalin and Depaeyin can feed all the bees in the country. If the bees don’t pollinate the plum trees, the fruit falls to the ground and is wasted. The honey the bees make brings in income. Kani township in Sagaing Region produces the best honey in Myanmar, in the highest quantity.”
The domestic price of honey about K300,000 for about 190 viss (1 viss is equal to 1.6 kilograms or 3.6 pounds). Last year, the same quantity fetched K600,000, said U Nyunt Win, who attributed the fall to lower demand from export customers. “Bee entrepreneurs could face losses this year,” he said.