By Sara Israfilbayova
Beekeeping, perhaps, one of the most environmentally friendly types of agriculture, is vibrant and flourishing in Azerbaijan and the industry almost doubled over the last eight years.
Recent researches show that the products of the beekeeping industry have a significant demand both inside of the country and abroad.
Public organizations play a significant role in increasing honey production. In particular, the Association of Beekeepers of Azerbaijan under Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO) was created, which aims to assist beekeepers in the production process, coordinate the activities of entrepreneurs and ensure operational interaction with government agencies.
Chairman of the Association Badraddin Hasratov told Azernews that there are more than 6,000 beekeepers in the country, which produced 3,000 tons of honey this year, while last year the indicator was equaled to 2,700 tons.
“The Azerbaijani honey is considered to be premium, which is used for medicinal purposes,” said the chairman.
He went on to say that local honey is made of more than 600 species of wild plants and is valued in the world market.
“This year, the country has sold 6,000 tons of honey to Japan and sent 450 kg to Qatar with the aim to check if Azerbaijani honey will be in demand there,” he said.
Hasratov mentioned that the demand for honey in Azerbaijan is 4,500-5,000 tons, and about 3,000 tons are produced. “This suggests that beekeeping in the country needs to be developed in order to eliminate imports,” he concluded.
To support the development of beekeeping, about 400 entrepreneurs received over 4.7 million manats ($2.76 million) of soft loans in 2016.
The rich climate of subtropics, the riotous diversity of flora and the valuable qualities of local bees - these are the favorable natural conditions of Azerbaijan, which contributed to the maintenance of the centuries-old tradition of beekeeping in Transcaucasia.
During the excavation in The Azokh Cave, where one of the most ancient settlements of the primitive man was discovered, a bowl with the bee depicted on it was found, which once again proves that beekeeping has deep roots in Azerbaijan.
An apiary organized in Mughan at the Caucasian silkworm station in 1889 became the center of rational beekeeping for the entire Transcaucasia.
From 1990 to 1999, beekeeping in the country decreased by 45 percent. There were many reasons for that. Most apiaries were destroyed in the area of military operations.
Currently, the Azerbaijani government does all its best to contribute to the rehabilitation and further development of beekeeping with creating favorable conditions for beekeepers.
Tarzan Nazirov, whose family has been engaged in beekeeping for more than 20 years can be set as a good example. Currently, he has 32 bee families, known as the ‘southern type’ and receives 500 kilograms of high-quality honey a year.
The biggest problem, according to the farmer is the sale of this product: “In many cases, buyers had doubts about the quality of honey. But thanks to the support of ABAD, we are convinced that our honey, sold under the name ‘Shanli’, will take a worthy place in the market.”
Another problem was related to the packaging of honey, which was also solved with the help of ABAD.
In September 2016, “Simplified support to family business” (ABAD) under the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations operating under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ASAN) was created in order to support the active participation of citizens in the social and economic development of Azerbaijan, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), increase of employment of the population.
The main task nowadays is to increase the production of honey and export it through participation of beekeepers in international markets under the ‘Made in Azerbaijan’ brand.
Earlier, Economy Ministry said that the development strategy of the industry is aimed primarily at a complete substitution of imports by domestic production, as well as a number of measures to increase the export of Azerbaijani honey.
Today, national beekeepers participated in the export mission of Azerbaijan to Dubai (the UAE) last November. As a result, negotiations on the received application of Azerbaijani honey supplies to the UAE market are underway.
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz