Apiculture in Bangladesh, in spite of having tremendous potential, is not thriving as a lucrative sector due to financial constraints of the apiculturists and lack of public awareness.
Now the country's yearly honey production is between 1065 tonnes and 1180 tonnes, which is far less than the level of demand.
Nearly 40,000 people have been trained in apiculture. Of them, 1000 persons are currently engaged in commercial production and remaining persons have gone for partial production.
China produces 1,80,000 tonnes of honey a year, followed by Argentina that produces 85,000 tonnes and the total production of the USA, Mexico, France and Germany is 4,59,000 tonnes per year.
During 1960s apiculture started its journey in Bangladesh as a profession though this sector was identified as a lucrative sector in some countries 400 years ago.
Despite possessing all the natural facilities Bangladesh is not self-sufficient in honey production. Rather it is importing honey from many countries including Australia, India and the US to meet her local demand.
"Financial constraints of apiculturists, absence of mass awareness about the potential of this sector and the low quality of local production are responsible for the low quality of production," said Assistant General Secretary of Bangladesh Institute of Apiculture Khairul Bashar.
Investing about Tk 40,000 for buying ten boxes of bees one can easily earn Tk 1,00,000 in the first year and in the second year the income will double as the honey production will be doubled, said Khairul Bashar while talking to the FE.
There are two species of bees- apis cerena (local) and apis melefera, the foreign species especially imported from European countries.
One box of local bees is sold at Tk 1200 and an apiculturist can produce 30 kg of honey in the first year and subsequently his income from it may rise to nearly Tk 6000 at the rate of Tk 200 per kg of honey.
But the price of a European box is Tk 4000 and this foreign box produces 50 to 60 kg of honey per year generating income of Tk 10,000 to Tk 12,000 a year, added Khairul.
Country's northern area is more suitable for apiculture than any other part of the country as bees can collect honey from different types of oil seeds and different types of fruit trees in the northern region, Khairul Bashar said.
With 46 members from government, non-government organisations, individuals and entrepreneurs Bangladesh Apicultural Association (BAA) started its journey on April 21 in 2005, said Khairul Bashar.
The prime objective of BAA is to develop this sector through imparting necessary training, expansion of apiaries, demonstration of apiaries, production, bottling and distribution of honey, communication with different national and international organisations engaged in this sector and setting policy framework.
Proper financial support and mass awareness about the benefits of this sector may generate substantial income for people and can create employment opportunity for a good number of people.