KATHMANDU, July 11: While production of honey is growing with every passing year, Nepali beekeepers have not been able to meet even the domestic demand.
According to experts, annual demand for honey in the domestic market stands at around 5,000 tons. However, beekeepers produce only around 4,500 tons annually.
“Nepal has the capacity to accommodate more than one million beehives. But farmers are working on only around 300,000 hives,” Subash Khanal, a junior technician with the Beekeeping Development Section under the Department of Agriculture, said. “There is a huge demand for Nepali honey in the international market. But export has not been much encouraging as the country lacks laboratories that meet the standards of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) of the World Health Organization.”
Tirtha Kumar Shrestha, senior plant protection officer with the Department of Agriculture, told Republica that production of cerena honey, which is believed to have health benefits, stands at a paltry two kilograms per year. “We can easily produce more than 30 kg of cerena honey annually,” Shrestha added.
He further said that Nepali beekeepers can easily meet domestic demand by getting more trainings and improving market management.
Jagdish Bikram Shrestha, former director general of Department of Environment, said imposition of taxes at the local levels on agricultural products is discouraging many beekeepers. “Though the government does not levy any tax on agricultural products, farmers have to pay taxes at the local level which is discouraging them as well as hampering their business,” he added.
According to conservative estimate, around 500,000 farmers across the country are engaged in beekeeping. “However, only around 5,000 of them are commercial beekeepers,” Dhan Raj Shrestha, a honey trader, told Republica. “Many farmers are involved in beekeeping simply because it provides them the much-needed cash to run their household.”
Officials say Rs 10 billion has already been invested in beekeeping industry. A single processing company has invested up to Rs 120 million, they say.